The Business of Medical Research
By John Herd
November 30, 2011
Medical research is more far than science for the sake of science, and far more than science for the sake of helping the ill. It is big business, very very big business.
Researchers and the institutions they work for, whether that be universities, hospitals, private or non-profit organizations all use employee/employer contractual agreements.
Such contracts cover ownership of proprietary information, use of such information, possible income sharing from derived information, confidentiality, etcetera.
Use of such contractual agreements are standard operating procedure because medical research is such big business and potentially big money.
Fortunes are made and lost on the stage of Medical research, as are the reputations and professional standings of both researchers and institutions.
As a side note, these factors frequently also induce a great deal of competition and politics, thereby making such contractual agreements all the more important.
When a researcher accepts employment at institution they’re not taking a minimum wage job flipping hamburgers on a grill; they’re entering into a well salaried and potentially lucrative position.
As such any researcher with the slightest bit of savvy makes sure they have a thorough understanding of their contractual standing with the institution. Use of legal counsel is often involved in this because so much is potentially on the line.
The institutions whether they be non-profits, private organizations, hospitals, universities… are all businesses, and as such economic factors are always paid attention to. This is essential for their sustained survival let alone growth. That’s the only way they can carry on their work.
Throughout my career of working with medical researchers I was called in to document new discoveries, new techniques, etcetera. Doing so was very often done long before such information was presented to conferences or medical journals.
Much of the work I was hired for was done to help document and establish evidence of ownership of the proprietary information. In turn the investigators and institutions often went to the patent office long before they present at the podium or in a journal.
There’s nothing wrong with any of this; it’s just how the industry works. All these factors are part of what drives, what motivates the the forward progression of science.
On many levels conducting medical research is an investment for both the institution and the researcher. If important advancements are made all parties including the public gain from it.
It would be incredible, astonishing, if there were not such contractual agreements used at the Whittemore Peterson Institute (WPI), and understood by all parties involved.
We outside observers don’t know and may never know what those contractual agreements stipulated. Speculation does not clarify anything.
If though contractual agreements were broken by any of the parties involved there’s cause and effect, ramifications.
What’s sad is that while all the legal/judicial fighting is going on we all lose out. Dr. Mikovits loses out, WPI loses out, and we the public who may benefit from scientific advancements lose out.
Because of this, and because of all legal/judicial actions being taken by WPI, I have a hard time believing it when WPI now states, “…Our commitment is to the patients first.” It’s about business.
If it were truly about “patients first” the information in those research notebooks and all discoveries made at WPI would be openly shared with other researchers and organizations conducting CFS research.
Of course that would be in a utopian world, but please don’t expect me to believe shallow public relations spin. It’s about business, even if all parties involved also care deeply about patients also.