Experts Shocked to Learn US Centers for Disease Control Taking Drug Company Funding

Rob Wipond
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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)

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11 COMMENTS

  1. “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.” Yes, our government in recent decades definitely does seem to have been restructuring itself unwisely in relation to many industries due to greed, and no doubt, a faustian bargain. Let’s hope we may get those within the government, who have seemingly made a deal with the devil, out of the government.

  2. I am also dismayed by this latest report of compromise. However, it is part of a larger backdrop of wanting smaller government and demanding a reduction in taxes. My brother has worked at the CDC for the last 22 years. When he first moved to Atlanta, his desk was under a leaky roof and he placed a waste basket underneath the run off. His report is that the head of Home Depot when touring the place was dismayed by the lack of modern equipment for responding to disasters. Apparently the Home Depot guy passed the hat among his wealthy friends and a new fancy command headquarters was constructed replete with fancy computer screens to respond to world crises. This came in just in time for the Haiti cholera epidemic and the ebola crisis. I think a similar story occurred at the FDA, when they decided to have the drug companies pay for the process of drug approval. Bottom line: you can’t privatize the federal government. If people want something different, they are going to have to pay for it.

  3. Reminds me of “Casablanca:”

    Claude Raines: “I am shocked – SHOCKED – to find that GAMBLING has been going on in this establishment!”

    Croupier (to Raines): “Your winnings, sir?”

    Raines: “Oh, thank you very much.”

    Ya gotta wonder how this surprises anyone whose head isn’t firmly placed up his rectum!

    — Steve

  4. Our government is not the problem…the problem is that our government has not been a government of and by the people for a long, long time.

    We need to overturn Citizens United and get monied interests out if our electoral process…check out wolfpac which is trying to do just that…