Privatization of the National Cancer Program – An Excerpt – National Cancer Institute and American Cancer Society: Criminal Indifference to Cancer Prevention and Conflicts of Interest by Samuel S. Epstein
Privatization of the National Cancer Program
In 1998, ACS created and funded the National Dialogue on Cancer (NCD), co-chaired by former President George Bush and Barbara Bush. Included were a wide range of cancer survivor groups, some one hundred representatives of the cancer drug industry, and Shandwick International PR, whose major clients include RJ Reynolds Tobacco Holdings.
Without informing NCD’s participants and behind closed doors, ACS spun off a small legislative committee. Its explicit objective was to advise Congress on the need to replace the 1971 National Cancer Act with a new National Cancer Control Act, which would shift major control of cancer policy from the NCI to the ACS. The proposed Act would also increase NCI funding from this year’s $4.6 billion to $14 billion by 2007. The ACS was assisted by Shandwick in drafting the new Act besides managing the NDC.
Subsequent to von Eschenbach’s appointment, NDC was spun off into a nonprofit organization. NDC then hired Edelman, another tobacco PR firm, following a pledge that it would sever its relations with the industry. Edelman represents the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company and the Altria Group, the parent company of Philip Morris, the nation’s biggest cigarette maker; Edelman also represents Kraft and other fast-food and beverage companies now targeted by antiobesity litigation. Edelman is also a board member of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation, which fosters relations between the centers, ACS, and the NCI. Edelman has thus become firmly embedded in national cancer policy making. In July 2003, it was discovered that Edelman had reneged on its pledge and was continuing to fight tobacco control programs from its overseas offices. Attempting damage control, Edelman claimed that this was just an oversight. Once more, it agreed to terminate tobacco support programs and to donate this income to charity.
Equally disturbing was the growing secretive collaboration between the NCI and the ACS-NDC complex as revealed in the August 2003 Cancer Letter. The latest example was the planned privatization of cancer drug trials together with the creation of a massive tumor tissue bank. This would have cost between $500 million and $1.2 billion to operate apart from construction costs in the billions. This initiative would be privatized, rife with conflicts of interest, exempt from provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee and Freedom of Information Acts and free from federal technology transfer regulations.
page 16 – 17
For more information on this critically important book and to purchase a copy please click on the link below.