HIV/AIDS Skepticism

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Posts Tagged ‘conflicts of interest between Astra Seneca and Nobel Co’

Conflicts of Interest in the Nobel Committee for Physiology and Medicine

Posted by Henry Bauer on 2008/12/12

Stefan R. sent the link to this item in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung (“New Zurich News”), 11 December 2008, which I translate freely and somewhat fallibly from the German:

“Nobel Prize in dubious light: Connection between drug company and members of Nobel Committee

Personal connections exist between the Nobel Committee and a drug company. The Swedish government attorney responsible for ferreting out corruption is considering whether to begin formal investigation.

Byline: Ingrid Meissl Årebo, Stockholm

Last preparations are in full swing for the festive award of the Nobel Prizes next Wednesday afternoon and for the associated celebration “above all other celebrations”, the glamorous Nobel Banquet in Stockholm’s Town Hall. At the same time, Swedish Radio broadcast less splendid news: the chief attorney for the Agency against Corruption is enquiring whether to begin investigation of the Nobel Foundation.

According to Attorney-General Christer von der Kwast, connections between the drug company  Astra Zeneca  and individuals associated with the Nobel Foundation might offer grounds for criminal proceedings. The British-Swedish company holds patents for both vaccines against human papillomavirus (HPV), which is capable of causing cervical cancer.

German virologist Harald zur Hausen was nominated for half of the Nobel Prize in medicine for discovering HPV. This illustrious approbation could lead more countries to add HPV-vaccination to their routine vaccinations, and  Astra Zeneca would profit thereby.

In the pay of Astra Zeneca
This week, Swedish Radio (SR) reported that Astra Zeneca has been the chief sponsor of two of the Nobel Foundation’s subsidiaries, Nobel Media (which controls and markets media rights for the Foundation) and Nobel Webb (responsible for the website nobelprize.org). The content of the contract with the sponsor is secret. The drug company may provide the two subsidiaries with support to the tune of millions.

According to the revelations by SR, several individuals involved in the award of the Nobel Prize for Medicine receive remuneration from Astra Zeneca: Bo Angelin, member of the Nobel Committee, sits on the board of Astra Zeneca. In addition,  Bertil Friedholm, representative of the  Nobel Committee at the Karolinska Institutet, held two consulting contracts with the drug company in 2006.

Angelin responded that he was not aware that Astra Zeneca could profit from the award to zur Hausen; he didn’t participate in the recommendation. The Secretary of the Nobel Committee, Hans Jörnwall, explained that Angelin’s connection to the drug firm was known and discussed. Now it may be necessary to clarify whether the right decision was made or whether future organizational changes might be called for.

Trips might be bribes
The Swedish Attorney-General will look into trips to China taken by  several members of Nobel Committees, where the expenses were paid by the hosts. The Department of Justice is looking into the possibility of bribery or attempted bribery. According to the Institute against Bribery, officials of the Nobel Foundation are obliged, under official Swedish ground rules, to cover those expense themselves.”

Clark Baker has already noted this situation on his blog.

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