Can cancer societies engage with the pharmaceutical industry without compromising their independence?

Big Debate 1

The question of the first Big Debate of the World Cancer Congress 2018 was thrown by Meera Sivasothy – a national radio host in Malaysia.

The question of the first Big Debate of the World Cancer Congress 2018 was thrown by Meera Sivasothy – a national radio host in Malaysia. Audience at the Plenary Theatre Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre was the first to answer the question through a live polling, 52% favouring the notion.

Subhanu Saxena from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation argued that cancer societies can and have been partnering with the pharmaceutical industry. He posited that such partnership is necessary to push the progress of innovation and service in cancer care. He added that the strong leadership of the cancer societies is the key for successful and independent partnership with the pharmaceutical industry.

In opposition, Richard Sullivan from the King’s College of London highlighted that the pharmaceutical business model is driven by self-interest, not altruism, therefore it might distract the cancer society’s purpose to serve the patients. Professor Sullivan strongly suggested the cancer societies to represent their community independent of any kind of bias and external pressure.

After a lively debate and important remarks from the audience, the live polling showed a shifting result – 57% of the voters chose to disagree that the cancer societies can maintain their independence while working with the pharmaceutical industry. 

Article contributed by Ariesta Milanti