Thursday, May 16, 2013

Corporate Corruption of Science - Asian WhiteCoats program

Initially this was a Philip Morris operation, but later RJ Reynolds, Brown & Williamson/British-American Tobacco, and the US Tobacco Institute became involved.

"WhiteCoats" (the term used by the industry) differed from both retained academic/scientific "consultants" and from the tobacco industry's "witnesses".

WhiteCoats were identified by either head-hunting firms, or by other scientific retainers of the industry, but they were always formally approached and recruited by lawyers. The aim was for them to provide secret support for the tobacco industry in various ways; they were not to reveal their connections, and they were paid on the piecemeal basis of work done.

WhiteCoats were deliberately recruited from a variety of different medical, scientific and academic disciplines, and they were expected to be largely self-directing and self-motivating. To make money, they had to find opportunities to help the industry by:

  • carefully watching the literature relevant to their discipline, and reporting on it.
  • attending conferences as speakers, panelists, or sometimes just as participants who prepared a report for the industry/
  • providing 'independent expert witness' testimony at inquiries,
  • writing letters-to-the-editor and articles to promote industry views or attacked anti-smoking propaganda.
Over time, many of these WhiteCoats also accepted retainers and grants, and began to do consulting and witness work for Philip Morris and the other tobacco companies — so there is no hard boundary between the categories.
In general, during the 1990s, WhiteCoats were paid between US $500 and $750 a day for their work, depending on the value of the work and academic prestige of the WhiteCoat.

Corporate Corruption of Science - Asian WhiteCoats program

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