Paid Advocate: Look Who's Talking

  • by: |
  • 10/19/2007
Let's be clear: Goozner works for Center for Science in the Public Interest. We run Center for Medicine in the Public Interest. Both groups deal with science and medical issues. Both are agenda driven research based organizations. We both get money from different sources that reflect two very different views about the relationship between science, innovation and the private sector.

CSPI gets $16 million a year from a variety of left wing groups and foundations and from a newsletter that over the years has told people that transfats were good (1980s) and that they were bad (2000s) and that wine, soda, popcorn, Chinese food, cookies, and anything other than raw carrots and celery can kill you. It has a vested interest in pumping out bad news and selling it. It has taken money from foundations to promote campaigns against Olestra, antibiotics in agriculture, wine consumption, gelatin, food additives because it causes ADHD, acrylamide (because it "causes" cancer) in bread and social drinking.

We get less then ten percent of that from individuals, foundations, biotech and pharma companies to discuss, promote and develop strategies and approaches to personalize the delivery of medicine. The blog and our oped writing is a small part of who we are and what we do. We blog and write on comparative effectiveness and its limits because no one else is and no one else seems to have the willingness to do so.

In this context simply calling me or Peter a "paid advocate" is tired and intellectually shallow. If we toed the party line and trashed "Big Pharma" no one would care where we got our money from, even if it came from Soros or Chavez or third generation tobacco scions.

This is the last time we will deal this issue because if our critics lack the self awareness and self-honesty to accept that no one group can claim to speak on behalf of the enlightened public interest because of where they get their support. Calling oneself a public interest group is, as Wildavsky noted, not just convenient, it is flattering. " Perhaps getting money from newletters and liberal foundations puts one on a higher moral plane and less conflicted We just think it makes others more...liberal.

Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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