Is big pharma behind Clark's health firings?

It's time for the B.C. government to come clean about the real reasons why it fired eight health researchers.

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B.C. health minister Terry Lake

The relationship between the BC Liberals and Big Pharma had already been clearly mapped out years ago, with the formation of the Pharmaceutical Task Force, whose nine members were dominated by drug industry representatives, including — astonishingly — Russell Williams, “president of Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies (Rx&D), a national lobby group with members from some 50 drug companies and whose directors include the presidents, CEOs and other top officials from 14 of the country’s biggest drug manufacturers," The Tyee reported in 2007. 

When the report of this body was finally released, it became clear that its primary purpose was to either destroy or severely limit an organization that had become a thorn in Big Pharma’s side. This was the UBC-based Therapeutics Initiative, a research body with a stellar international reputation for cutting through drug industry hype and delivering accurate information about drug effectiveness and hazards. It was, for example, the first group to question the safety of Vioxx, which was eventually taken off the market in 2004 because of severe harm to the heart.

Merck Canada head office, Montreal

Its withdrawal also caused $28 billion damage to the bottom line of its manufacturer Merck. 

Christy Clark is using every political and legal tool at her disposal to cover up what really happened since the fall of 2012. The public needs to know if the premier's longstanding support for the bottom line of the drug industry and resulting hostility toward industry critics influenced these firings.

The most sinister and alarming aspect of this cover-up is the fact that the provincial government has repeatedly used a lie to fend off calls for disclosure.

Over and over again, senior government officials claimed that details of the firings could not be revealed, because the RCMP was carrying out an investigation of what happened.

But there never was any RCMP investigation.

Alleging that such an investigation was taking place, it is now clear, was a deliberately fabricated smokescreen, thrown up by elected officials determined to turn the bright light of public scrutiny away from the dark truths of their own machinations. 

There is far more at stake in the government’s stonewalling than revelations about a botched investigation and its tragic outcome.

The context for this debacle clearly suggests that the relationship between Big Pharma and Christy Clark and her ministers is obscured by government obstructionism.

The only suitable outcome in this matter is for an outraged citizenry to exert relentless pressure on the provincial government, compelling it to come clean and allow the real story to be told.

Anything less will be a perversion of natural justice, and a continuation of business — big business — as usual.

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