“This is an outstanding piece of work that exposes an issue of profound social importance…The writing is clear and persuasive, the interviews are effective, and—most importantly—it fulfills the highest mandate of health journalism: to raise awareness and literacy among the general public of both the importance of free scientific inquiry, and specific issues within that sphere that have an impact on our collective wellbeing.”
Sanofi Pasteur Press Release 2014 – Writing a new prescription for pharmaceutical information
Montréal May 22, 2014 — Pharmaceutical firms are usually eager to recruit researchers for reviews and trials that will see new products approved for the marketplace, but their enthusiasm for research appears to end at that point. According to some observers in the scientific and medical community, this industry does not welcome follow-up studies to examine prescription patterns and success rates of drugs on the market. In fact, they may be encouraging governments to withhold patient treatment records on the pretense of protecting privacy, but in reality this move makes it difficult to explore how well any particular medication is doing and whether physicians should be offering it to their patients.
That disturbing conclusion was reinforced in 2012 when the British Columbia government summarily removed respected and well established UBC academic Malcolm Maclure from his role as manager of PharmaNet, a massive database that details drug use within the province’s health system. Among other topics, he had been investigating whether BC physicians were being influenced by drug companies in how they chose drugs for their patients. The province accused Maclure of releasing confidential patient information as part of this work, but that charge has yet to be proved, and he suspects there may be more to this decision.
Just how much more was explored by Toronto-based writer Paul Webster in an article for Vancouver Magazine. His article, “Adverse Reactions”, which considered the prospect that Maclure’s firing was the result of pharmaceutical industry pressure, is being honoured with this year’s Sanofi Pasteur Medal of Excellence in Health Research Journalism.
“This is an outstanding piece of work that exposes an issue of profound social importance,” said one of the award judges. “The writing is clear and persuasive, the interviews are effective, and—most importantly—it fulfills the highest mandate of health journalism: to raise awareness and literacy among the general public of both the importance of free scientific inquiry, and specific issues within that sphere that have an impact on our collective wellbeing.”
CHR Past President Patricia Guyda agreed, adding that volume and diversity of the drugs we now use makes it imperative to study them before as well as after they enter the market. “This is like any consumer product that defines our modern lifestyle,” she said. “We have a responsibility to regularly monitor how these products may be affecting that lifestyle.”
CHR launched the Sanofi Pasteur Medal of Excellence in Health Research Journalism in 1995, and administers the selection process. Sponsored by Sanofi Pasteur Limited., Canada’s premier vaccine company, the inaugural medal recipient was Globe & Mail science reporter Stephen Strauss for his longstanding contribution to promoting public awareness of science. Other recent awardees include Marine Corniou for her work in Québec Science magazine and François Bouthillette a journalist at Radio-Canada.
“As a company that is built on a century of science innovation, Sanofi Pasteur is pleased to be associated with this prestigious award that recognizes excellence in science journalism,” says Nancy Simpson, Director, Communications at Sanofi Pasteur Limited.
As part of the award, Webster will receive a plaque and a $2,500 bursary on June 7, 2014, during the Canadian Science Writers’ Association annual general meeting at the University of Toronto in Toronto.
Canadians for Health Research (CHR) is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting the stability and quality of Canadian health research. It fosters communication between health researchers, the government and the Canadian public, and publishes a quarterly magazine entitled Future Health. For more information, or to become a member, please visit the CHR website at http://www.chrcrm.org.
Sanofi, an integrated global healthcare leader, discovers, develops and distributes therapeutic solutions focused on patients’ needs. Sanofi has core strengths in the field of healthcare with seven growth platforms: diabetes solutions, human vaccines, innovative drugs, consumer healthcare, emerging markets, animal health and the new Genzyme. Sanofi is listed in Paris (EURONEXT: SAN) and in New York (NYSE: SNY).
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, provides more than 1 billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunize more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases. The company’s heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company entirely dedicated to vaccines. Every day, the company invests more than EUR 1 million in research and development. For more information, please visit: www.sanofipasteur.com or www.sanofipasteur.ca