The US government’s Centers for Disease Control have been taking millions of dollars in drug company money in recent years, according to a news report in The British Medical Journal. Researchers in America and around the world expressed shock, and asked how the funding has been influencing CDC actions and decisions.
“The CDC Foundation raised $52m in fiscal year 2014, of which $12m was from corporations,” reported The BMJ. “The CDC itself in fiscal year 2014 received $16m in conditional funding from sources such as corporations, individuals, and philanthropy, including the CDC Foundation. Conditional donations are earmarked for specific projects. For example, in 2012, Genentech earmarked $600,000 in donations to the CDC Foundation for CDC’s efforts to promote expanded testing and treatment of viral hepatitis. Genentech and its parent company, Roche, manufacture test kits and treatments for hepatitis C.”
The article reviewed a number of other possible influences of private money on CDC activities.
Jerome R Hoffman, a methodologist and emeritus professor of medicine at UCLA, told The BMJ, “Most of us were shocked to learn the CDC takes funding from industry. Of course it is outrageous that industry apparently is allowed to punish the CDC if the agency conducts research that has the potential to cut into profits. But it was our government that made this very bad arrangement, so the way to fix it is not to ask the CDC to ‘pretty please be more ethical, and avoid conflicts of interest’; rather, as a society, we have to get the government to reject this devil’s bargain, by changing the rules so this can no longer happen.”
Lenzer, Jeanne. “Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Protecting the Private Good?” BMJ 350 (May 15, 2015): h2362. doi:10.1136/bmj.h2362. (Full text)