Posted by: shoji | May 22, 2008

At One University, Tobacco Money Is a Secret – New York Times

Turns out that Virginia Commonwealth University has a Sponsored Research Contract with the tobacco company Philip Morris. The problem is not [necessarily] accepting tobacco money for research; it’s the secrecy of the contract itself and terms limiting disclosure of research results.

What’s worse is that VCU has gone to lengths to keep the agreement secret.

Unfortunately for VCU, it’s the cover-up or appearance of the cover-up which makes this story look so bad. (Even faculty didn’t know about the significant money received by VCU from Philip Morris which funded some of their research.)

You may recall ~2 months ago, that Cornell University was in the spotlight for accepting tobacco money in funded a clinical trial on CT scanning and lung cancer. From the portrayal in The NYT, it appeared that a separate “non-profit” was established to hide the source of funds. NEJM and others were outraged that complete disclosure was not made.

At One University, Tobacco Money Is a Secret – New York Times
On campuses nationwide, professors and administrators have passionately debated whether their universities should accept money for research from tobacco companies. But not at Virginia Commonwealth University, a public institution in Richmond, Va.

That is largely because hardly any faculty members or students there know that there is something to debate — a contract with extremely restrictive terms that the university signed in 2006 to do research for Philip Morris USA, the nation’s largest tobacco company and a unit of Altria Group.

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