If you’re like me you would have grown up naively believing that medical charities and patients groups are basically the good guys. They can be trusted to speak clearly and with authority because they represent the best interests of the patients and are not influenced by such grubby considerations as turning a profit, increasing market share, or anything of that ilk. You would have been rather worried when you found out that drug companies often sponsor charities (e.g. here), using such influence to help them get their products adopted, but you tried to retain faith in the notion of the good guys. Now, however, it appears to have come full circle and charities are sponsoring drug companies. The FT reports that:
A British cancer charity is to fund clinical trials of a drug owned by GlaxoSmithKline in a pioneering programme to develop promising experimental medicines that are neglected because of limited corporate funding. Cancer Research Technology, the commercial arm of Cancer Research UK, will shortly begin tests in patients of GSK’s 1070916A, and retain a share of the profits if the drug is successfully launched.
Yes, that’s right, “retain a share of the profits”. Just because they’re a patient group or a medical charity doesn’t mean they have any more moral authority than anyone else. There is no particular reason why they can’t comment on proposed guidance or breaking news stories etc., but as with any other individual or group they have to make clear what their conflicts of interests are.
*Sigh.* Was it easier in the old days? Were the good guys gooder then, and the bad guys badder? As in the words of Mr Adams, “In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were REAL men, women were REAL women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were REAL small furry creatures from Aplha Centauri.”