Trying to keep up with health care ethics (mis)adventures

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Read Bill Heisel’s column, “Journalists Bag a Big One:  The American Pain Foundation.”  Excerpt:

The American Pain Foundation – an industry funded promoter of painkillers masquerading as a patient advocacy organization – closed its doors last week after it became the target of a U.S. Senate panel inquiry.

The action by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee and the surprisingly quick collapse of the foundation were prompted by two journalistic investigations.

Also see Carl Elliott’s column, “Making a Name for Yourself in the Ethics Business.”  Excerpt:

Let’s start with a quiz.  Can you tell which of these awards is real?

A) The Exxon Valdez Prize in Environmental Ethics

B) The Goldman Sachs Endowment in Business Ethics

C) The Richard Milhous Nixon Award for Ethics in Government

D) The Pfizer Fellowship in Bioethics

If you guessed D), you win.  Yes, it is true that Pfizer has a rap sheet filled with felonies; yes, the company exploited Nigerian children in one of the deadliest research scandals in recent memory;  and yes, in 2009 it paid out the (then) largest criminal fine in American history.  But what better way to atone for past wrongdoing than a generous cash award to a bioethicist?  The Pfizer Fellowship in Bioethics is a $100,000 grant that allows “researchers to explore ethical issues that arise in the everyday practice of contemporary medicine,” such as “conflicts of interest.”

Elliott will soon be participating in one of Adriane Fugh-Berman’s events at Georgetown, “Missing the Target: When Practitioners Harm More Than Heal.”



And Ed Silverman on recently wrote about “China, Bioethics and the Wild West.”  Excerpt:

Next fall, the University of Pennsylvania will host a 10-day crash course in Bioethics in China, which some may argue is an oxymoron.

Pharmalot: You mentioned that the program receives industry grants. Some might say that’s an unnecessary influence.
Joe Powers, the executive director at UPenn’s Center for Neuroscience & Society, who previously held various jobs with different large drugmakers and is overseeing this effort: “Yes, we received grants from Merck and Sanofi to develop a bioethics program in China… We started a consortium… Each company is contributing seed money to establish a program and the University of Pennsylvania has committed funding, along with a large medical school in China… I have no problem accepting industry funds… We have a conflict of interest steering committee here at Penn to make sure everything is ethical.”


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