• 23 DEC 08
    • 0

    #1007:Conflict of Interest and the Nobel Prize

    From Mast Sanity:

    Nobel Prize Bought By Pharma Kick Backs
    December 12, 2008
    Swedish Officials Investigating Nobel Prize Board
    Celia Farber

    The Nobel Prize Committee is facing investigation of bribery and corruption
    after allegedly taking huge payments from a pharmaceutical company that
    directly benefits from the work of this year’s Nobel Prize winner in

    The astonishing scandal, being reported in the European trade press and
    conspicuously absent from Sweden’s major daily newspapers, surfaced just
    days before the internationally renowned awards were presented in Stockholm
    on Wednesday.

    According to Swedish trade journal Dagens Medicin, Swedish state prosecutors
    are checking into allegations that two Nobel-affiliated corporations —
    Nobel Media and Nobel Webb — may have received “many millions” of dollars
    from Swedish-American pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca.

    AstraZeneca, which holds patents on and collects royalties for both human
    papillomavirus (HPV) vaccines currently available — Gardasil in the U.S.
    and Cerverix in Europe — stands to benefit financially from the 2008 Nobel
    Prize given to German Harald zur Hauser for his discovery of HPV and its
    link to cervical cancer.

    Medical industry analyst Johan Unnerus, told the German newspaper
    Heidenheimer Zeitung on Friday that Astra is expected to earn between $30
    million and $50 million annually from its financial interest in the two
    market-leading vaccines.

    The trade journal reported Friday that the Nobel Committee’s financial
    connections with AstraZeneca “may be criminal.”

    Swedish state Prosecutor Christer van der Kwast told Dagens Medicin that he
    had ordered a full criminal investigation, on the eve of Wednesday”s lavish
    award ceremonies, adding dryly: “It was not my intention to ruin the party.”

    Swedish state radio Sveriges Radio reported more conflicts of interest this
    week, involving at least two Nobel Committee academics: Professor of
    metabolic research Bo Angelin, from the Karolinska Institute, is both on the
    board of AstraZeneca, and a voting member of the Nobel Committee. Another
    highly placed academic in the Nobel Committee, Bertil Fredholm, was revealed
    to have been a paid consultant for AstraZeneca through 2006.

    “When these kinds of revelations come to light, of course it becomes our
    highest priority to investigate,” van der Kvast said. “The criminal charges
    that may become formalized are bribery and corruption.”

    Zhou Yi, an AstraZeneca spokeswoman in London tells Newsmax that while the
    pharmaceutical giant does collect money from the core patents on the HPV
    vaccines, the company held no sway in the Nobel selection.

    “Our connection is to two Nobel subcommittees, Nobel Media and Nobel Webb,”
    Yi says, “Our sponsorship is strictly about helping get the word out
    globally on the benefits of medical breakthroughs. These two committees are
    not the groups responsible for choosing a Nobel Prize winner.”

    Yi did confirm that AstraZeneca board member Bo Angelin also sits on the
    committee that votes on Nobel candidates, but said it was still unclear
    whether he had actually voted for Hauser.

    “I can tell you AstraZeneca, as a company, did not influence this award in
    any way,” Yi says.

    Meanwhile, controversy also centered on the other half of the Nobel prize in
    medicine, given to Dr. Luc Montagnier of the Pasteur Institute, for his
    claims of the 1983 discovery of what was termed the “AIDS virus.”

    International medical ethics watchdog group The Semmelweis Society has
    issued a press release
    drawing attention to numerous breaches of scientific standards that
    undermine the notion that an “AIDS virus” was ever discovered, or proven to
    be causative.

    Related Links:
    * AstraZeneca row as corruption claims engulf Nobel prize
    David Charter, The Times

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