Monday, 13 September 2010

Conflict of interest, come on down!

Canadians with MS want choices. The Canadian Institutes of Health Research, by not funding studies into CCSVI, has effectively offered none. Zip. Zero.

It's no shock to anyone that many of the doctors on the CIHR's panel of experts found themselves smack dab in the middle of conflicts of interest that they chose to ignore. Let's see some highlights, shall we? Don't worry, no slander here - this is all public knowledge and sourced.

Now, the first doc on the list isn't on the panel of experts, but it would be a vast oversight to skip him.

Introducing Dr. Alain Beaudet, President of Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr. Beaudet served as CEO of Fonds de La Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRSQ) from 2004-2008 [1]. FRSQ is a research funding agency whose largest parter is Pfizer [2]. Beaudeat appointed the vice-president of Pfizer Canada to the CIHR's governing council. Okay, call me crazy, but isn't that just...bizarre? Interestingly, there's a nice little snippet in an article called "Governance of conflicts of interest in postmarking surveillance research and the Canadian Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network" [3] on this point:

The appointment of Dr. Bernard Prigent, vice-president of Pfizer Canada, to CIHR’s governing Council—the first pharmaceutical representative to be so appointed (25–29 article's citations, ignore)—and statements by CIHR president Dr. Alain Beaudet in the context of this appointment, emphasizing the need to intensify collaboration and even to align CIHR’s “agenda” and “vision” with the pharmaceutical industry,(30) do raise the question whether CIHR remains sufficiently independent from industry to operate the DSEN.
[I started bolding the important parts there, but it became illegible]

Let's connect a few dots here. This report suggests that CIHR may not be sufficiently independent from the pharmaceutical industry to operate the national Drug Safety and Effectiveness Network. So, whose interests are being served by a board so closely linked with one of the largest drug companies in the world? Is there a shot in hell of Canada even looking at an alternative to drugs? Profitability for treating this disease remains sky high while profitability for stopping it is not.

Dr. Prigent, the Pfizer man who was appointed to CIHR's governing council…well, it turns out he's a registered lobbyist for Pfizer [4]. His position is to sway CIHR and other research spending programs. So, now he can lobby himself! Brilliant. [see also, 5]

Who's up next?
Maybe Dr. V. Wee Yong. Ooookay. Shotgun. Barrel o'fish. Coming soon...

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