Wednesday, May 17, 2023

Monica Bertagnolli - The Links Between the Nominee for Director of the NIH and Big Pharma

Joe Biden's newly nominated candidate for Director of the National Institutes for Health (NIH), Monica Marie Bertagnolli:


...has a very cozy relationship with one of America's largest pharmaceutical companies and a strong connection to the President as you will soon see.


As background, Dr. Bertagnolli was also appointed as Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) by the Biden Administration on October 3, 2022, one of 20 Institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health as shown here:



NCI is the federal government's principal agency for cancer research as part of the National Institutes of Health.


Let's look at Dr. Bertagnolli's connection to Big Pharma.  Thanks to Open Payments Data, an official website of the U.S. government, we know which companies have funded Bertagnolli's research.


Here's her payment summary for 2021, the latest year for which data is available:



Associated research funding is provided to research a project of study where the physician named is the principal investigator, in this case, Dr. Bertagnolli.


Here is a graph and table showing Dr. Bertagnolli's associated research funding back to 2015:



Here are the top companies making associated research funding to Dr. Bertagnolli in 2021:



As you can see, in 2021, Pfizer was responsible for funding 72.1 percent of research in where Dr. Bertagnolli was the lead researcher.


Here's the same data for 2020:


...and 2019:



In closing and because Joe Biden really doesn't care what the serf class thinks of his potential appointment of Dr. Bertagnolli, here's a sampling of what appeared on the White House website on May 16th, touting the views of her peers on her nomination:

This is yet another fine example of "agency capture".  While it is not corruption per se, it's pretty clear that there are close links between Dr. Bertagnolli's research and Pfizer.  One has to wonder whether she will be able to be impartial when dealing with Pfizer (and other Big Pharma companies) as director of the National Institutes for Health given that Pfizer has funded a very significant part of her research.

But, then again, if there's anything that the last three years have taught us it's that health care in America is rife with conflicts of interest and has very little to do with actually improving our health.

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