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HOME  > Past issues  > 2011 June 1 - 7  > Cozy business and political ties must be banned for people’s safety
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2011 June 1 - 7 [POLITICS]

Cozy business and political ties must be banned for people’s safety

June 1, 2011
Editorial (excerpts)

The Health Ministry in January requested medical-related associations to issue a statement in protest against a court order for the government and a pharmaceutical firm to pay compensation to victims of the anti-cancer drug Iressa. The ministry has recently published a report on its in-house investigation into the matter in which its officials had even drafted a statement for medical groups to use to refute the ruling.

While acknowledging that it was an organizational maneuver by the government ministry, the report concluded that what happened was “within the bounds of regular duties”.

On January 7, the district courts in Tokyo and Osaka confirmed that the responsibility lies with the national government and AstraZeneca, the Iressa importer, for causing the deaths of more than 800 lung-cancer patients due to the side effects of the drug and recommended that the two defendants pay settlement money to the plaintiffs. Media widely reported the court recommendation, calling on the state and the drug firm to accept the ruling.

According to the investigation report, the Health Ministry requested six medical associations to issue a statement as a countermeasure against the media coverage. In response to the request, four statements were published criticizing the judicial order, and one of them included a copy of the ministry-drafted manuscript.

As scholars and researchers are expected to take a fair stance based on scientific views, the collusive behavior of these medical groups is called into question.

Drug companies offer many executive posts to retired Health Ministry officials. They donate huge amounts of money to universities, hospitals, and doctors, as well as to politicians. The collusive relationship among politicians, bureaucrats, and corporations has led to the drug-induced diseases, threatening citizens’ lives. Yet the investigation did not question if AstraZeneca had been involved in the maneuver.

The nuclear crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant has revealed the grave risk of nuclear energy, that was blindly promoted by the “N-power community,” involving corporations, government ministries, politicians, and scientists. In order to eradicate negative effects of such cozy relations, a thorough investigation needs to be conducted on the Health Ministry under the leadership of the prime minister.

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