CDC Conflicts

Government oversight organizations seemingly compromised

CDC involved in multiple conflicts of interest, according to U.S. Inspector General

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have states it mission as “the nation’s health protection agency, CDC saves lives and protects people from health threats. To accomplish our mission, CDC conducts critical science and provides health information that protects our nation against expensive and dangerous health threats, and responds when these arise.”

The CDC’s budget, from a trends perspective, has increased from fiscal year 2000 ($3.1B) to a request of more than $11B for FY 2019. There have been slight decreases in funding from year-to-year during this time period with the largest funding decrease from 2014-2016 when funding hovered around $7B; however, in 2017-2018 funding was back to around $11-$12B.

What’s interesting is that the CDC website lists its 2017 FY budget at $7.1B, but Congressional budget documentation lists the budget at $12.1B. It can only be inferred that the CDC is trying to portray a funding stalemate.

Most Americans are not aware of the fact that in 1995, when the CDC’s budget was striped for around $2-$3B for gun research funding at the behest of Congressional Republicans, the CDC Foundation was also created by Congress to account for “helping the CDC do more, faster.” That’s the stated mission of the Foundation listed on its website.

This opened the floodgates for the CDC to go from being a publicly funded government oversight operation to one that is now also privately funded. In 2016, the Foundation lists among its donors prominent pharmaceutical corporate donors, including Bristol-Myers Squibb Foundation, Chlorine Chemistry Foundation, GE Foundation, The Merck Company Foundation, The Pfizer Foundation, The Pfizer United Way Campaign, Pfizer, Inc., PG&E Corporation Foundation and Schwab Charitable Fund. And, that’s just the Big Pharma donors, check out the Complete List with tons of other additional large corporate donors.

According to the CDC Foundation, donor funds go toward collaborations that “range from standard programs to complex, multi-partner initiatives.” The Foundation website reports that it raised more than $42M in FY 2016, and more than $662M to “support 882 programs” since 1995. Of course, no real details are provided on these 882 programs.

The Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), through National Institutes of Health (NIH), owns patents on all HPV vaccines, and receives a percentage of the profits for each dose of Gardasil and Cervarix administered anywhere in the world. The CDC, which is housed under HHS, is listed as the assignee for 57 Granted U.S. Patents.

There are CDC patents applicable to vaccines for Flu, Rotavirus, Hepatitis A, HIV, Anthrax, Rabies, Dengue fever, West Nile virus, Group A Strep, Pneumococcal disease, Meningococcal disease, RSV, Gastroenteritis, Japanese encephalitis, SARS, Rift Valley Fever, and chlamydophila pneumoniae. There is a CDC patent for “Nucleic acid vaccines for prevention of flavivirus infection,” which has applications in vaccines for Zika, West Nile virus, Dengue fever, tick-borne encephalitis virus, yellow fever, Palm Creek virus, and Parramatta River virus.

The CDC website states that the organization manages “nearly $2B in United States financial investments.” Why would the CDC need to manage investments — unless a portion of the 882 partnerships are for-profit activities. The CDC even has a Bloomberg Financial Profile listed online, where several board members are listed has having connections to or actually from Big Pharma companies, such as Merck.

In a 2010-issued HHS Inspector General report examining activity from 2007, it found:

  • For almost all special Government employees, CDC did not ensure that financial disclosure forms were complete
  • CDC did not identify or resolve potential conflicts of interest for 64 percent of special Government employees
  • CDC did not ensure that 41 percent of special Government employees received required ethics training
  • Fifteen percent of special Government employees did not comply with ethics requirements during committee meetings

*Reference the full report Here.

Federal healthcare grants might have been illegally used for political lobbying, according to the HHS inspector general, The Hill reported in 2012. Before we put our faith in the CDC we need to ask who’s best interest does this organization have in mind — The U.S. public or the corporate pharmaceutical sector? There are multiple conflicts of interest at play with our government oversight organizations like the CDC.