C . A . G . E .
Citizens Against Government Encroachment -- Citoyens Anti Gouvernement Envahissant
 

 

 

 

NON-PROFITS, CHARITABLE ORGANIZATIONS, HEALTH AGENCIES 

 

 

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE TO OUR MEMBERS AND VISITORS: 

Effective November 8, 2007 selected news articles and commentary will be posted on the C.A.G.E. bilingual blog at http://cagecanada.blogspot.com/  where you’re also welcome to post your own comments.   All past entries in this news section and all of ‘’news’’ sub-sections, will remain published here for future reference.

 


 

 

 



“Here's the formula: Pick a disease, add a few worthy-sounding programs, obtain federal charity status, hire a telemarketing company, and start calling.”

November 4, 2007 - More from the Montreal Star on where your donations go when you donate to any of the many charities who are ‘’counselled’’ by Craig Copland.

Charitable empire has high costs

Expenses eat up 70% of the millions donated to charities created by Craig Copland

 David Bruser
Staff Reporter

The causes tug at the hearts and wallets of millions of Canadians.

The pleas for cash are delivered by charities whose names alone could soften even the most callous into making a donation.

Cancer Recovery Foundation.

Childhood Asthma Foundation.

Children's Emergency Foundation.

Starting from addresses around Toronto and now from his new, three-storey lakefront house in Muskoka, 57-year-old fundraising consultant Craig Copland has helped create an empire of health charities that has taken tens of millions of dollars from Canadians.

Copland is the founder or co-founder of at least six Canadian charities that routinely spend 70 per cent or more of your contributions on telemarketers and other expenses. The Star found the charities exaggerate their good deeds, or outright refuse to say what they do with your money.

Here's the formula: Pick a disease, add a few worthy-sounding programs, obtain federal charity status, hire a telemarketing company, and start calling.

To donors and the federal regulator, the charities appear more philanthropic than they are. That's because they typically record telemarketing expenses as charity, and take credit for mysterious overseas relief shipments supplied by others. Copland said the charities do good work. He said inherited wealth affords him the time to help them achieve their goals. By his count, he has helped 60 charities and non-profit organizations worldwide.

"I believe in what they are doing and am honoured to be able to assist in their humanitarian efforts," Copland told the Star in one of several written statements. In another he said: "I have been offered consulting fees by charities and I consistently turn them down."

But Copland does get some of the charity money. He is a telemarketing consultant who has claimed Canadian "market domination." In that role, he works closely with a publicly traded telemarketer called Xentel DM. Copland finds Xentel new charity clients. Xentel pays him royalties for charities sent its way. He also served on Xentel's board of directors until the Star started asking questions.

Xentel spokesperson Len Wolstenholme, who has worked closely with Copland for years, said "I know Craig himself to be an absolutely straight-up individual, a remarkable man." The Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada was created in 2003 with the promise from Copland and others that it would: open a support hotline for cancer patients; establish a national network that connects cancer victims; and link medical providers with patients.

The Star found no evidence the foundation has done these things. The charity did say it would fund kid's camp scholarships and provide cancer survivor kits – two things they say they have done. But with almost 80 per cent of the $5.4 million it raised in a two-year period going to telemarketers and expenses, according to the charity's federal filings, there is little left over. Star research shows that a good charity spends 60 per cent or more of donations on good works.

The Childhood Asthma Foundation says it is "dedicated to alleviating the suffering of children with asthma," and states that in the last seven years it has given $1.65 million in research grants across Canada. But, since 2000, the Copland-founded charity has also spent four times that amount, $6.8 million, on telemarketing, salaries and office expenses. Meanwhile, it is giving less and less to research over time.

"I thought a good portion of the donation would be going to these causes," said Iris Ward, 74, a Toronto resident and primary caregiver to an 81-year-old friend with Alzheimer's disease who has often donated to charities connected to Copland.

Ward became suspicious when she noticed several charities shared a post office box. The box belongs to Xentel, a firm with a reputation in Canada and the U.S. for aggressive pitches. Provincial and state regulators have criticized Xentel for misleading donors and sometimes keeping 80 to 90 cents of every dollar raised.

Wolstenholme defends his Calgary-based company, saying it has "assisted a great many organizations and a great many Canadians link up with one another."

Copland has also set up charities in the U.S. and brought in Xentel. At the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, board director Father Harold Bradley said Copland handled the negotiations with Xentel on behalf of the charity. Bradley said the telemarketing cost is high.

"It troubles me," said Bradley. "I'm going to keep asking questions. That's all I can do."

Copland said his royalty is less than one per cent of what the charities pay Xentel. He won't disclose the amount – or the number of charities involved – and charity statements are not detailed enough to calculate the dollar figure. Copland said the deals are fair.

"I do not expect to receive anything if nobody is making any profit, but I do expect a share once it starts to be acquired," he wrote to the Star.

Xentel's Wolstenholme disagreed with Copland's description of royalties based on profit (which is frowned on by the charity community), saying Copland gets paid for his services, no matter what.

Shortly after 8 a.m. one morning last August, the Star went to the Muskoka address used by three charities and Copland's consultancy, and found his idyllic, tree-shrouded home on the shores of Kahshe Lake. Copland quickly shut the door when a reporter attempted to ask questions. In subsequent emails, Copland complained he didn't get advance warning but suggested he would meet in person. He never did.

Just a few days later, Copland resigned from Xentel's board for "personal reasons."

Since then, in several bristling emails, he has refused to answer specific questions about how donor dollars are spent, though he said "the charities with which I have been associated have consistently returned 80 per cent or more of their overall income to the community."

The charities in this story do not come anywhere close to spending 80 per cent of your dollar on good works.

Under the banner of "Benigno numine" – Latin for "With the favour of heaven" –Copland's private firm, Copland International, has been consulting for 16 years.

In a pitch he sent one charity, Copland said his consultancy, together with the telemarketer, prepares the scripts, trains callers, makes the calls, collects pledges by mail and credit card and provides constant data analysis. Copland's brother James manages data for Xentel and charities. Sometimes, Copland writes the charitable status application. Copland's firm has claimed to have helped charities raise more than $100 million.

Copland appeared on the national charity scene in the early 1990s. He served as CEO of Canadian Feed The Children from 1991 to 1996 and was featured in newspaper articles for his work distributing medicine in Rwanda or helping children in Romania. Copland won't say why he resigned.

But a former charity board member, John Irwin, noted serious concerns about the charity's finances under Copland's watch. Irwin said he took over Copland's job on an interim basis and discovered the charity was in debt, paying office rent to a house owned by Copland and too dependent on high-cost telemarketing.

"We became concerned about Craig. We made him very well aware of it," said Irwin. "We paid him adequately to make him go away. We wanted to get on with serving the children."

Copland founded Children's Emergency Foundation (CEF) that year and was board president until 1999.

The foundation says it feeds tens of thousands of needy Canadian school children through a network of breakfast and lunch programs. The charity would not identify them. The Star found several cases in which the charity provided about $100 a month to a needy school or community service providers while other groups provide the food and volunteers. The Star also found the charity gives about $16,000 annually to another charity that mentors inner-city kids.

Now run by Copland's ex-wife Jill McKinney, CEF has claimed a staggering $73 million in revenue since 2000, about $15 million of it in cash and $58 million in donated goods.

Like many charities connected to Copland, the foundation said most of its good works involve distributing "life-saving" medicines and supplies to foreign countries.

The federal Charities Directorate calls these "gifts-in-kind," and charities can claim the fair market value of the goods as a charitable expenditure even though the cost for delivering the goods is far less, sometimes even nil.

Copland says helping to organize international relief efforts is his specialty.

This system makes charities with high telemarketing expenses seem much more philanthropic. CEF's McKinney would not give details about these programs, saying her charity's resources are scarce and there was no "public benefit" to answering the Star's questions.

Since 2000, CEF has spent more than $10 million on salaries and fundraising firms such as Xentel.

The year after CEF opened for business, Copland founded the Childhood Asthma Foundation. Copland says he suffered from the disease.

The charity claims to have handed out thousands of colouring books that educate children about asthma and distributes research grant money.

But since 2000, roughly 25 cents of every donor dollar has gone to research. Which begs the question: Wouldn't donors be better off giving their hard-earned money directly to the researchers and bypassing the charity that will take 75 cents of their dollar?

Board member Dr. Mark Scappaticci of Niagara Falls defended the fundraising fees.

"It's the cost of doing business, buddy," he tersely told a reporter. "If I can help one asthmatic child benefit from the research we've supported, then I'm happy. I don't care what the cost is."

Childhood Asthma used to have a connection to Xentel, but currently uses Toronto-based Responsive Marketing Group (RMG). RMG has not worked with Copland for several years.

Childhood Asthma executive director Jodi Giammarco would not answer any of the Star's questions.

Documents show Childhood Asthma and another charity co-founded by Copland, Children's Leukemia Research Association, are run out of the same Niagara Falls home belonging to Giammarco. The Star checked at 9 a.m. on a weekday and found two people milling about a suburban house with a two-car garage. The man who answered the door, appearing half-asleep, said the charities weren't based there.Copland says telemarketing is "the only avenue now available for a `newly founded' charity to build a major direct-marketing fundraising program within a year or two of inception. ... Any charity that tries to print, stuff and mail its own letters will go broke doing so."

But many charities do it differently.

At Mother Teresa's behest, Toronto dermatologist Dr. Andrew Simone and his wife Joan set up Canadian Food For Children in 1985 and slowly built the charity. Last year, they shipped 456 containers of food, clothes and other supplies overseas.

The Star was invited to the Mississauga warehouse and saw scores of volunteers working amid pallets of powdered eggs, cereal, biscuits and sandals.

Simone is dismayed by how for-profit the non-profit sector has become. Newsletters prepared by volunteers generate donations that pay for his charity's shipments.

"The end never justifies the means," he said as 60 school teachers sat nearby, volunteering by stuffing envelopes with hand-written literature. "(Mother Teresa) was very blunt. She said, `It hurt Jesus to love us and it will hurt us to love others.' We'd have to give up ourselves. We weren't going to get paid."

Next for Copland was the founding of Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada in 2003.

In the last two years, Canadians have donated $5.4 million. With fundraising costs to Xentel and others of $3.8 million and administrative costs of $436,000, there's less than $1.2 million left over for good works.

What does the charity do with that cash?

In its brochures, it says it hands out "survival kits" full of literature and breast cancer "totes" for women suffering from the disease, gives money to patients, helps send kids with cancer to camp, and hosts seminars.

The charity won't say who benefited, and the Star could find only a few recipients of its charitable programs. The foundation says $500,000 has gone to patient financial aid and camp fees.

"We have worked many years to develop our reputation and have accomplished a great deal against enormous odds," said executive director Catherine Madden.

In Alberta, an outraged Christine Wandzura says she has received complaints that Xentel, while calling on behalf of Cancer Recovery, misled donors by suggesting an affiliation with her well-known organization, Kids Cancer Care Foundation.

"We're building a file on (Cancer Recovery) ... We've repeatedly requested information and not received it," she said. "They're hurting charities that are working very hard to provide relief. I find it offensive and immoral."

Xentel and Cancer Recovery say they have no record of this complaint. Cancer Recovery says they consider Kids Cancer Care a colleague, something the Alberta charity disputes.

A donor perusing Cancer Recovery's financial reports would think they are a wonderful charity. That's because the charity also takes credit for overseas shipments of medicine – the charity values shipments in one year at $3.7 million, but the cost to the charity, it says, was one-tenth that amount. Some of the charities appear more philanthropic by recording some of their telemarketing expenses as charitable work, a practice the federal regulator says it forbids. Cancer Recovery also uses this method.

Copland said many charities do this, but he does not condone it.

In 2004, Copland helped found the American Foundation for Children with AIDS and the Organ Donation and Transplant Association of Canada, and later a similar organ donation charity in the U.S. The Canadian Organ Donation charity was profiled by the Star this summer. It claimed to save lives but only 10 per cent of donated money goes to research. In 2000, Copland also helped found the Kim Phuc Foundation – run by Phuc, an Ajax resident famous for her appearance in a Vietnam War era photograph of a child fleeing a napalm attack.

Last year, Copland co-founded a new charity – the Children's Leukemia Research Association in Canada.

Meanwhile, Irwin, who crossed paths with Copland at Canadian Feed The Children in the mid-1990s, says he's surprised to learn what Copland had done since.

"If he's got eight or nine charities going, he's been a busy boy," Irwin said. "It's a shame that kind of brilliance couldn't be put more single-mindedly to good."




September 22, 2007 - If one paid close attention, one could find hundreds of examples of the ‘’numbers game’’ played by those doing the analysis to promote a certain agenda.  The following is an article discussing conflict of interest even within well known organizations such as UNICEF. 

Experts Say U.N. Agencies Spin Data

By MARIA CHENG –

LONDON (AP) — Numbers don't lie — or do they? When it comes to public health, figures are seldom straightforward. Last week, UNICEF announced what it described as a "major public health success": child deaths dropped to a record low of 9.7 million worldwide in 2005.

But on Friday, the same figure was cited by a study in the medical journal, The Lancet, as evidence the decrease in child mortality has slowed.

"I don't see how you can look at that number and say this is cause for optimism," said Dr. Chris Murray, the study's lead author and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

The disagreement underscores the often political nature of data and the way in which agencies use it to promote their agendas or to attract donations.

"There's a lot of spin taking place with these numbers," said Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton, who was unconnected to the study.

According to Murray's study, which was funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the Norwegian government, the rate at which children are dying is falling by only 1.3 percent every year. That's much less than the 2.2 percent annual rate seen between 1970 and 1985.

Murray, a former senior official at the World Health Organization, said agencies involved in fundraising and working in countries should not also be responsible for charting what progress is being made.

"I am sure everyone at UNICEF is committed to doing the right thing," he said. "But there is a clear conflict of interest."

Tessa Wardlaw, UNICEF's chief of strategic information, said data is always open to interpretation.

"We welcome the debate and any new input for improving the methodology," Wardlaw said. She said that UNICEF expected incoming research, which had yet to be analyzed, to show more positive trends.

 


 

July 17, 2007 - We know the WHO has more than trespassed their mandate when they start meddling with the legal system.  What started out as an organization whose mandate was to deal with infectious diseases, is now encroaching into the legal system of its member countries.   It is high time that , the WHO is told to back off !  We would not accept judges to control a malaria epidemic, why should we accept that medical bureaucrats tell us how to run our courts! 

From the BBC

Alcohol 'no excuse' for violence

Dhdhd

Legislation will stop drunkenness being used as an excuse for criminal behaviour, Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill is expected to announce.

Mr McAskill is planning to tell a conference of world experts at Tulliallan Police College he will crack down on drink-fuelled violence.

Seven out of 10 people accused of murder in Scotland were under the influence of drink or drugs.

The justice secretary will be speaking at a Violence Reduction Unit event.

Mr McAskill said: "Here in Scotland we have a clear lethal cocktail of alcohol and knives that results in carnage.

"That's why we believe we have to trigger a message culturally, as well as through the legal system, that alcohol cannot and will not be tolerated as an excuse for criminal behaviour."

He said 70% of those who commit murder are under the influence of drink or drugs.

Figures show that almost half of Scotland's 7,000 prisoners claim to have been drunk at the time of their offence.

The justice secretary said: "If you behave in an ignorant loutish manner, shout, bawl, breach the peace, assault someone, commit domestic violence, don't use alcohol as an excuse. This is unacceptable."

Det Ch Supt John Carnochan of the police Violence Reduction Unit has said that alcohol use should be considered an "aggravating" factor when sentencing someone for a crime.

Mr McAskill said: "What we are triggering is that it can no longer be a mitigatory factor.

"I will leave it to the Crown and the court to decide whether there are instances, and I think there are, where alcohol is an aggravation."

The third "Milestones of a Global Campaign For Violence Prevention" conference at the Fife college has been organised on behalf of the World Health Organization (WHO).

At the conference, worldwide experts will discuss developments in research, policy and practice for violence prevention.

The two-day meeting, to be held at Tulliallan Castle from 17 to 19 July, is expected to attract more than 200 researchers, practitioners and advocates in the field.

 


 

 

 

June 6, 2007 – It is too bad that some charities are making it bad for the rest and that the government isn’t doing much in weeding out the bad ones.  The Star seems to have an ongoing investigation on this issue.  Please do not hesitate to report to them any suspicious charity practices. 

INVESTIGATION

TheStar.com - News - Charity scams bust public trust

Charity scams bust public trust

Toothless watchdog lets rogue agencies prey on donors and threaten a sector that raises billions of dollars a year

Jun 02, 2007 04:30 AM

Kevin Donovan
Staff Reporter

The federal government has consistently failed to protect the public from fraudulent and misleading charities, a Star investigation shows.

Bogus charities that prey on donors' heartstrings are frequently licensed and allowed to carry on fundraising for many years before they are shut down, if they are shut down at all.

They organize campaigns that promise they are raising money for such causes as missing, dying and abused children; local poverty; conquering AIDS in Africa; medical conditions such as Parkinson's Disease and asthma; helping the lives of animals; or saving human souls.

Instead, the owners line their pockets with charitable dollars, pay high costs to fundraisers or simply waste the funds.

For example, the Wish Kids Foundation said it was giving dying children their final wish, but its operators were really just trying to buy themselves an airplane. Canadians Against Child Abuse said it was trying to stop abuse, but its executive director was paying for his house, entertainment and vacations.

Who loses in this scenario? Generous donors and representatives of legitimate charities. Both, in interviews, say they want the government to do something concrete after more than a decade of task forces that looked into regulating the country's 82,000 charities, a number that has grown by 4,000 in the last five years.

"How can a donor know who is good and who is bad?" said Frances Lankin, president of United Way of Greater Toronto. "I really believe we need an independent watchdog or much more power for the federal charities directorate." Good charities have an interest in this, Lankin said, because bad charities decrease the trust donors have in the charitable sector. Donors in Canada directly give about $40 billion a year to charities, a combination of tax receipted donations, and payments through lotteries, membership dues and other sources.

One of the challenges in regulating charities is that they fall between federal and provincial law.

The federal government operates the Charities Directorate, part of the Canada Revenue Agency. Charities are tax exempt and can issue federal tax receipts to donors. Provincial authorities, usually through the Public Guardian's office, also have the power to step in and take a charity to court if it is doing something wrong. The guardians across Canada rarely take action.

The Star found the primary regulator, the federal Charities Directorate, is virtually powerless to deal with problem charities. To begin, tax law forbids it from warning the public about bogus or wayward charities. The directorate, which is part of the Canada Revenue Agency, treats charities the same way the taxman treats personal taxpayers. So, even when auditors have found a charity is doing little or no good work at all they cannot tell the public. Each year about 800 to 1,000 charities are audited and half are told they have done something wrong, but the public can't find out, even if it would be of major importance.

"It's a public trust, being a charity," said Neil Hetherington, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Toronto. "If a charity has been told it is doing something wrong, donors should be able to find that out."

The Star found the directorate also lacks the resources to police the growing number of charities in Canada.

"We don't have an army of auditors to sit on top of 82,000 charities," said Elizabeth Tromp, director general of the Canada Revenue Agency's charity directorate. Tromp, who took over the directorate three years ago, has done more than her predecessors to improve regulation. The number of agencies audited each year has doubled, for example. There are 40 auditors looking at the charities.

"The vast majority of charities are doing good works," Tromp said. But a comprehensive probe by the Star of charity financial data and government audits shows that, while the federal Charities Directorate routinely makes this claim, it really has no idea how many charities are good and how many are bad.

The Star obtained about 40 audits where charities were shut down by the directorate over the last several years. The directorate released the audits (which are typically not made public) because the charity lost its licence.

In many cases, the charity had been allowed to operate for five years or more, its bold claims of putting the majority of its money to "good works" unchallenged by the regulator. But when complaints, and often investigations by this newspaper, prompted an audit, the auditor looked at the books and delivered roundhouse blow after roundhouse blow.

Auditors in the Wish Kids case found the charity did not provide "assistance to any sick child or their family."

As to the directorate having a handle on the 82,000 charities, the Star's extensive probe of five years of financial data show the self-reported information is so riddled with inaccuracies as to be absolutely useless to a donor.

Perhaps the biggest failing the Star found is in the area of "good works." Charities can make wildly differing claims as to what constitutes their good works and the federal government does not verify the claims. For example, charities that take millions of dollars from the public routinely count the act of fundraising as charity, something that is forbidden by the government.

Audits show charities often record millions of dollars in fundraising costs as "charity" on the assumption that a paid telemarketer or door knocker is spreading the message of the charity. The directorate's Tromp has said this is wrong, federal auditors state it is wrong, but charities still get away with it.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving, which was the subject of recent Star stories, has been told twice in four years to stop this practice, according to confidential documents obtained by the Star. According to a recent statement by the charity's board of directors, they are now planning to stop.

The Star also found a growing number of schemes in which a professional fundraising firm has linked with a charity, purportedly to do good works, but really to make a fast buck. In one example, a Toronto based company, the Canadian Organization for International Philanthropy, has recently linked with two charities to raise $40 million in tax-receipted donations. The charities are All Saints Greek Orthodox Church and the Orion Foundation. The former is a local Toronto church and the latter is a charity run by a James Arion, out of his home in Stouffville

According to the promotional materials for this scheme – Fight AIDS, Save Taxes! – they plan to send $350 million in antiviral medication to Africa and have already issued $40 million in tax receipts to donors. The Star found that the company is telling donors that they are buying AIDS drug doses at about $12 a dose – when legitimate charities are buying the drugs overseas for 30 to 40 cents a dose. Robert Steen, senior executive with the Canadian Organization for International Philanthropy, said they purchase the drugs from a Costa Rican company, Globe Lending Group. A search by the Star was unable to come up with a head office and the company's mailbox is a Costa Rican company that sets up offshore companies. Steen won't discuss Globe, saying he is not allowed to talk about the people behind it. However, he says he can't explain why they are paying so much for it.

"This is new information to us (that they have bought the drugs for 40 times their value). We will look into it," said Steen.

Steen and the others behind this scheme have no experience in this sort of work. It's a for-profit exercise disguised as a non-profit charity.In the group's boardroom, they have a photo of Canadian AIDS activist Stephen Lewis, who until recently was the United Nations HIV/AIDS envoy for Africa. Lewis is smiling beside one of the fundraising company's officials. Lewis, it turns out, has nothing to do with the group (they walked up to him at a conference and snapped a photo with him) and the fundraisers have no idea where they got the African pictures in their glossy brochures.

While the federal charities directorate states it is trying to crack down on bad charities, they are not using all the tools they have. Almost two years ago, they were given the power to discipline charities through fines and temporary closures.

"These sanctions have given us a lot more in our toolkit – suspension, monetary penalties to the charity," said Tromp.

But as of today not one disciplinary action has been taken.


 

 

THE WHO 

The WHO (World Health Organization) describes their mission in their website as :  The World Health Organization is the United Nations specialized agency for health. It was established on 7 April 1948. WHO's objective, as set out in its Constitution, is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health. Health is defined in WHO's Constitution as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.

One would expect the WHO to be governed by the highest standards of research, ethics, integrity and accuracy when recommending policy and setting trends for the rest of the world. 

How much trust should we be putting in this prestigious world health agency?  Below is a story that was published in various newspapers and following that, you will find a link of the complete 127 page report:

World

WHO guidelines often lack evidence, study finds

 'Pretty seismic event,' Lancet editor says

 

Tue May 8 2007

 

By Maria Cheng

 

LONDON -- When developing "evidence-based" guidelines, the World Health Organization routinely forgets one key ingredient: evidence. That's the verdict from a study published in The Lancet online today.

The medical journal's criticism of WHO could shock many in the global health community, as one of WHO's main jobs is to produce guidelines on everything from fighting the spread of bird flu and malaria control to enacting anti-tobacco legislation.

 

"This is a pretty seismic event," Lancet editor Dr. Richard Horton, who was not involved in the research for the article. "It undermines the very purpose of WHO."

 

The study was conducted by Dr. Andrew Oxman and Dr. Atle Fretheim, of the Norweigian Knowledge Centre for Health Services, and Dr. John Lavis at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ont. They interviewed senior WHO officials and analyzed various guidelines to determine how they were produced. What they found was a distinctly non-transparent process.

 

"It's difficult to judge how much confidence you can have in WHO guidelines if you're not told how they were developed," Oxman said. "In that case, you're left with blind trust."

 

WHO issues about 200 sets of recommendations every year, acting as a public health arbiter to the global community by sifting through competing scientific theories and studies to put forth the best policies.   

WHO's Director of Research Policy Dr. Tikki Pang said that some of his WHO colleagues were shocked by The Lancet's study, but he acknowledged the criticism had merit, and explained that time pressures and a lack of both information and money sometimes compromised WHO work.

 

"We know our credibility is at stake," Pang said, "and we are now going to get our act together."

 

WHO officials also noted that, in many cases, evidence simply did not exist. Data from developing countries are patchy at best, and in an outbreak, information changes as the crisis unfolds.

 

To address the problem, they said, WHO is trying to develop new ways to collect information in poor regions, and has proposed establishing a committee to oversee the issuance of all health guidelines.

 

The Lancet study -- conducted in 2003-04 through analyzing WHO guidelines and questioning WHO officials -- also found that the officials themselves were concerned about the agency's methods.

 

One unnamed WHO director was quoted in the study as saying: "I would have liked to have had more evidence to base recommendations on."

 

-- Associated Press

 

 Link to the complete report at :

http://www.kunnskapssenteret.no/filer/WHOGuidelinesReportFinal.pdf


 

 

 

Conflict of interest between the pharmaceutical giants and various non-profits, some that are as prestigious as the Canadian Cancer Society and the Lung Association and that traditionally no one dared questioned their ethics, are now being put under the media projectors for some of their funding sources and the potential bias that it may create when assessing various situations.  We had brought up this issue with the Canadian Cancer Society in a letter to them that you will find in our French section at http://www.cagequebec.ca/index.php?pr=Correspondence which was totally ignored.  Perhaps now that the media has caught on to the issue, the public will be getting the answers it deserves.

Anti-smoking groups look to drug giants for funding

 CanWest News service

Monday, January 22, 2007

 

OTTAWA - The Canadian Cancer Society is about to publish an update to its guide that helps smokers who want to quit.

It cost $75,000 to redevelop the popular book One Step at a Time, but the national charity didn't have to worry about the price. That's because it asked Pfizer Canada, the country's largest maker of nicotine replacement therapy products, to pay the cost.

Pharmaceutical giants are some of the top financial contributors to groups such as the Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and other groups.

However, anti-smoking charities, non-profit groups and other organizations rarely trumpet those relationships or the fact they receive large donations, research grants and sponsorships from the makers of drugs they often promote.

"When it comes to characterizing a disease or talking about a treatment, many times it sounds like they're speaking with the voice of their funder," said Alan Cassels, a drug-policy researcher at the University of Victoria.

Charities say financial contributions from pharmaceutical companies are accepted only with a strict "no-strings attached" policy. With limited disclosure and unclear rules, however, it's difficult for consumers to know how drug companies are involved with such groups and what influence they may have.

For Dr. Jerome Kassirer, professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine, the issue is simple: consumers have no way of knowing whether they are listening to a sales pitch from a drug company that's disguised as advice from a charity.

"Would the pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars a year if they didn't think it was valuable? Of course not," he said.