It’s been a profitable venture for the drug companies, as well as for the professors and their universities. Agriculture schools increasingly depend on the industry for research grants, a sizable portion of which cover overhead and administrative costs. And many professors now add to their personal bank accounts by working for the companies as consultants and speakers. More than two-thirds of animal scientists reported in a 2005 survey that they had received money from industry in the previous five years.
Yet unlike a growing number of medical schools around the country, where administrators have recently tightened rules to better police their faculty’s ties to pharmaceutical companies, the schools of agriculture have largely rejected critics’ concerns about industry cash. Administrators have set few limits on how much corporate money agricultural professors can accept. Faculty work with industry is governed by confidentiality rules that veil it from public view.
In certain ways, the close relationship between animal scientists and pharmaceutical companies has never served the public well. Few animal scientists have been interested in looking at what harm the livestock drugs may be causing to the cattle, the environment, or the people eating the meat. They’ve left most of that work to scientists outside of agriculture, consumer groups, and others who take interest.
But with the introduction of Zilmax, the situation may have reached a tipping point. Critics say some academic animal scientists have become so closely tied to the drug companies that they may be working more in the companies’ interests than in those of farmers and ranchers—the very groups that land-grant universities were created to serve.
Substitute patient for beef cattle and psychiatrist/primary care physician for animal scientist and voila! Patients growing enormous and iatrogenically ill and diseased on second generation antipsychotics, and their physicians so entangled with pharma and medical device industries that they fail to serve patients’ interests.
The Chronicle of Higher Education isn’t usually where I find in depth whistle-blower investigative reporting. Read the entire article. It will (or should) make your hair stand on end.
Ethics and malfeasance, anyone?
Social contract. In pieces.
- Scientists Deeply Skeptical of FDA Program to Reduce Antibiotic Use in Agriculture (ecowatch.org)
- US agency seeks voluntary restrictions on animal antibiotics (blogs.nature.com)
- Drug companies paid $6.3 million to Oklahoma’s doctors for research, speaking (newsok.com)
- Pharmaceutical company taps Novartis and Pfizer for management team (medcitynews.com)
- FDA urges limited use of antibiotics on farms (amarillo.com)
- How do you solve a problem like agriculture? (boingboing.net)
- Girard Gaul- Research Paper-Rough Draft (envirowriters.wordpress.com)