Advertisement

Science and Engineering Ethics

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 29–41 | Cite as

Patients’ health or company profits? The commercialisation of academic research

  • Nancy F. Olivieri
Article

Abstract

This paper is a personal account of the events associated with the author’s work at the University of Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children on a drug, deferiprone, for the treatment of thalassaemia. Trials of the drug were sponsored by the Canadian Medical Research Council and a drug company which would have been able, had the trials been successful, to seek regulatory approval to market the drug. When evidence emerged that deferiprone might be inadequately effective in a substantial proportion of patients, the drug company issued legal threats when the author proposed informing her patients and the scientific community. Until protests were made by international authorities in her field of research, the hospital and university did not adequately support the author’s academic freedom and responsibilities as a medical practitioner.

It is argued that underlying cause of this, and of other similar cases, is the political philosophy which is driving the commercialisation of universities and bringing about the deregulation of drug approval procedures. Together these changes constitute a serious threat to the public good.

Keywords

commercial sponsorship of university research drug deregulation thalassaemia deferiprone research integrity academic freedom 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Thompson, J., Baird, P. and J. Downie, J. (October 2001) The Olivieri Report, The complete text of the independent inquiry commissioned by the Canadian Association of University Teachers, James Lorimer and Company, Toronto.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Thompson, J., Baird, P. and Downie, J. (2002) Supplement to the Report of the Committee of Inquiry on the Case Involving Dr. Nancy Olivieri, he Hospital for Sick Children, the University of Toronto, and Apotex Inc. 30th Jan. (http://www.caut.ca/english/publications/news_releases/20020131_olivieri.asp Accessed 22.10.02)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    di Norcia, V. (2003) The Olivieri Report-A Compelling Study of the Growing Tensions in Clinical Research, Science & Engineering Ethics 9: 125–132.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Weatherall D.J. and Clegg, J.B. (August 1996) Thalassemia — A global public health problem Nat. Med. 2 (8): 847–849.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Olivieri, N.F., Brittenham, G.M., Matsui, D., Berkovitch, M., Blendis, L.M., Cameron, R.G., Mcclelland, R.A., Liu, P.P., Templeton, D.M. and Koren, G. (1995) Iron-chelation therapy with oral deferiprone in patients with thalassemia major N. Engl. J. Med. 332(14): 918–922.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Somerville, M.A. (2002) Nature Reviews, Drug Discovery 1, 316.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Olivieri, N. (1999) HSC clinical trials controversy continues, Nature Medicine 5(1): 3.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Bonetta, L. (2000) Hate-mail author trapped by DNA, Nature Med. 6(4): 364.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Birmingham, K. (2000) Second HSC researcher sends anonymous ‘Olivieri’ note, Nature Med. 6: 485.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Birmingham, K. (2000) No dismissal for hate-mail author, Nature Medicine, 6(6): 609–610.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Bonetta, L. (2001) Olivieri to testify against Apotex in Europe, Nature Medicine 7(6), 644.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Roush, W. (1997) Science and Commerce: Secrecy Dispute Pits Brown Researcher Against Company. Science 276: 523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Marcus, J. (1999) How researchers are silenced by ‘pact with devil’, Times Higher Education Supplement, 11 June.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    CAUT Bulletin, June 1999 http://www.caut.ca/English/Bulletin/99_jun/brown.htm (accessed 24.x.02).Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Shuchman, M. (1998) Secrecy in Science: The Flock Worker’s Lung Investigation, Annals of Internal Medicine 15 August, pp. 341–344.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Kern, D.G., Kern, R.K. and Durand, K.T.H. (1999) Annals of Internal Medicine 130(7): 616.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Kern, D.G., Crausman, R.S., Durand, K.T.H. et al. (1998) Flock worker’s lung: Chronic interstitial lung disease in the nylon flocking industry Annals of Internal Medicine 129(4): 261.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Zinberg, D.S. (1996) Editorial: A Cautionary Tale, Science 273: 411.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    McCarthy, M. (1997) News-Sponsors lose fight to stop thyroxine study publication, Lancet 349: 1149(1997).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Vogel, G. (1997) Long Suppressed Study Finally Sees Light of Day, Science 276: 523–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Evans, G.R. (1999) Calling Academia to Account, SRHE & Open University Press.Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Dong, B.J., Hauck, W.W., Gambertoglio, J.G., Gee, L., White, J.R., Bubp, J.L. and Greenspan, F.S. (1997) Bioequivalence of generic and brand-name levothyroxine products in the treatment of hypothyroidism, J. Am. Med. Assoc. 277(15): 1205.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Rennie, D. (1997) Thyroid Storm, Jama 277(15): 1238–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Packham, D, Impact of Commercialisation and Privatisation on Capabilities for Scientific Advice in Oracles or Scapegoats? Scientists and scientific advice in government policy making, Report of the conference on 28th Oct. 1999, Westminster Conference Centre, I.P.M.S, p. 11.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    http://acst-ccst.gc.ca/comm/home_e.html. Accessed 24.10.02.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Ziman, J. (2003) Non-instrumental roles of science, Science and Engineering Ethics 9: 17–27.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Tasker, M. & Packham, D. (1994) Government, Higher Education and the Industrial Ethic, Higher Education Quarterly 48(3): 182.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Tasker, M. & Packham, D. (1993) Industry and Higher Education: a Question of Values, Studies in Higher Education, 18: 127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    McMurtry, J. (1991) Education and the Market Model, Journal of Philosophy of Education 25: 209.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Angell, M. (2000) The Pharmaceutical Industry — To Whom Is It Accountable? New England Journal of Medicine 342 (25): 1902–1904.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Angell, M., Urtiger, R.D. and Wood, A.J.J. (2000) New England Journal of Medicine, 342: 586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Krimsky, S., Rothenberg, L.S., Stott, P. and Kyle, G. (1996) Financial Interests of Authors in Scientific Journals: A Pilot Study of 14 Publications, Scence and. Engineering. Ethics 2(4): 395–410.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Weatherall, D. (2003) Science, Problems for biomedical research at the academia-industrial interface, Scence and. Engineering Ethics 9: 43–48.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Davidoff, F. et al. (2001) Sponsorship, authorship and accountability, The Lancet, 358: 854.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Opragen Publications 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Toronto, University Health Network, Toronto General Hospital, 101TorontoCanada

Personalised recommendations