Nobel-winner John Sulston slams medical industry for moral corruption

July 7th, 2008 - 3:22 pm ICT by ANI  

London, July 7 (ANI): Nobel Prize-winning British scientist Sir John Sulston has accused the medical industry of giving rise to the “moral corruption”.

He feels that experts these days are vying to make more and more profits rather than taking care of the needs of patients, particularly in the developing world.

Sulston, who is well known for his commitment to public medicine and his opposition to the privatisation of scientific information, says that researchers are concerned about private companies patenting genes and genetic tests.

He is also concerned about the misuse of information, and what he terms “disease mongering”.

He is taking these concerns over the direction that science and medicine are going in, onto a broader stage.

Speaking at the launch of a new research institute in the UK, which he is to head as its chairman, Sulston revealed that the institution would research the ethical questions raised by science and innovation.

He said that he wanted experts to formulate ground rules and guidance on issues like the patenting of genes, and how people in developing countries could have fair access to medicines.

Sulston hit out at the existing systems that placed the needs of shareholders ahead of the needs of patients.

“Some people would say it is not corrupt because it is not illegal, and that is true; but I consider that advertising a medicine that doesn”t make clear any disadvantages of the medicine, or, in fact, the fact that most people don”t need this particular medicine - I would cite, for example, anti-depressants which are hugely oversold, especially in America. This is the sort of thing I mean by corruption. It’’s not legal corruption; it’’s moral corruption,” the BBC quoted him as saying.

Sulston bemoaned that the world was at a crisis point in terms of getting medicines to sick people, particularly in the developing world.

He stressed the need for an international biomedical treaty to iron out issues over patents and intellectual property.

Sulston teamed up with bioethicist John Harris to set up the Institute for Science, Ethics and Innovation, which is staging a one-day conference on Saturday called Who Owns Science?.

Sulston shared the 2002 Nobel Prize for medicine for his work on the genetics controlling cell division. (ANI)

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