Dear Ms Leona Aglukkaq:
I am currently on a research assignment in Britain, hence I missed the uproar in Canada about the appointment of a Pfizer VP to the governing council of the CIHR. This open letter is in response to this growing scandal.
I am appalled that anyone should have considered appointing a representative of the pharmaceutical industry to such a position of influence, let alone a representative of Pfizer.
As to the former: Continuing conflicts of interest between the role the Pfizer VP would have to play in order to avoid breaching the fiduciary relationship the company and its employees have to its shareholders, and the public interest are inevitable. His role is to represent the interests of Pfizer and its shareholders, while the CIHR agenda surely is in the Canadian public's interest. There is no reason at all to assume that Pfizer's interests and those of the Canadian public necessarily are identical.
As to the second: Pfizer as a pharmaceutical company is probably the most egregious of the companies involved in terms of continuing breaches of ethics regulations. The company routinely and repeatedly pays out large sums to extricate itself from breaches of ethical guidelines, and frequently the law. I am flabbergasted that, of all companies available, a Pfizer representative should have ever been considered. Are you or your advisers unaware of any of this?
I urge you to intervene before it is too late. The CIHR is at great risk of losing credibility as a biomedical research funder by appointments such as these.