Patients’ health or company profits? The commercialisation of academic research
- 502 Downloads
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.
Keywordscommercial sponsorship of university research drug deregulation thalassaemia deferiprone research integrity academic freedom
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 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.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.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
- 8.Bonetta, L. (2000) Hate-mail author trapped by DNA, Nature Med. 6(4): 364.Google Scholar
- 9.Birmingham, K. (2000) Second HSC researcher sends anonymous ‘Olivieri’ note, Nature Med. 6: 485.Google Scholar
- 13.Marcus, J. (1999) How researchers are silenced by ‘pact with devil’, Times Higher Education Supplement, 11 June.Google Scholar
- 14.CAUT Bulletin, June 1999 http://www.caut.ca/English/Bulletin/99_jun/brown.htm (accessed 24.x.02).Google Scholar
- 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.Kern, D.G., Kern, R.K. and Durand, K.T.H. (1999) Annals of Internal Medicine 130(7): 616.Google Scholar
- 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
- 21.Evans, G.R. (1999) Calling Academia to Account, SRHE & Open University Press.Google Scholar
- 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.http://acst-ccst.gc.ca/comm/home_e.html. Accessed 24.10.02.Google Scholar
- 26.Ziman, J. (2003) Non-instrumental roles of science, Science and Engineering Ethics 9: 17–27.Google Scholar
- 27.Tasker, M. & Packham, D. (1994) Government, Higher Education and the Industrial Ethic, Higher Education Quarterly 48(3): 182.Google Scholar
- 33.Weatherall, D. (2003) Science, Problems for biomedical research at the academia-industrial interface, Scence and. Engineering Ethics 9: 43–48.Google Scholar