Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Corporate links of global health foundations may conflict with philanthropic interest

Date:
April 12, 2011
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Major philanthropic foundations in global health, which often influence and shape the international global health agenda, have links with food and pharmaceutical corporations that could constitute a conflict of interest to the foundations' philanthropic work, reveals a new analysis.

Major philanthropic foundations in global health, which often influence and shape the international global health agenda, have links with food and pharmaceutical corporations that could constitute a conflict of interest to the foundations' philanthropic work, reveals a new analysis published in this week's PLoS Medicine.

Professor David Stuckler of Harvard University in Boston, USA, Dr. Sanjay Basu of University of California, San Francisco, and Professor Martin McKee of London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in London United Kingdom, examined the five largest US private/family foundations in global health -- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Ford Foundation, W. K. Kellogg Foundation, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and Rockefeller Foundation, that together have an annual revenue in excess of US$7 billion -- and find that these Foundations, which are exempt from paying taxes according to US law, have links with and investments in private food and pharmaceutical companies that may benefit from foundation grants.

The authors also found that in some instances foundation board members sat on the boards of corporations that also may benefit from their grants and vice versa -- that is, foundation grants are sometimes associated with companies represented on the foundations' board and are among its investments and partnerships.

The authors drew upon the definition of conflicts of interest used by the World Health Organization (WHO) in their Roll Back Malaria (RBM) Partnership that says a conflict of interest "can occur when a Partner's ability to exercise judgment in one role is impaired by his or her obligations in another role or by the existence of competing interests. Such situations create a risk of a tendency towards bias in favor of one interest over another or that the individual would not fulfill his or her duties impartially and in the best interest of the RBM Partnership. A conflict of interest may exist even if no unethical or improper act results from it. It can create an appearance of impropriety that can undermine confidence in the individual, his/her constituency or organization. Both actual and perceived conflicts of interest can undermine the reputation and work of the Partnership."

The authors investigated potential conflicts of interest that may arise in relation to the foundations' overall activities and investments by analyzing publicly available endowment disclosures with the US Internal Revenue Service and stock holdings information from the US Securities and Exchange Commission. They also examined potential conflicts of interest of individual foundation employees.

Using this method, the authors found that all five Foundations had endowment investments in pharmaceutical and food companies (such as Kraft and Coca-Cola) while some had directly or indirectly invested in tobacco corporations.

The authors say "a private foundation clearly has the legal right to spend money however it wishes within the limits of the law."

They continue: "Yet, in an environment where private foundations influence the future direction of, for example, what programs will be introduced into a foreign community, in a manner that does not necessarily involve directorship or voting from the community- members themselves, it is reasonable to subject the decision-making processes of these entities to public debate, especially if these funds were to have otherwise been collected for public redistribution through federal taxation."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Stuckler, Sanjay Basu, Martin McKee. Global Health Philanthropy and Institutional Relationships: How Should Conflicts of Interest Be Addressed? PLoS Medicine, 2011; 8 (4): e1001020 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001020

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Corporate links of global health foundations may conflict with philanthropic interest." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 April 2011. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412171158.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2011, April 12). Corporate links of global health foundations may conflict with philanthropic interest. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412171158.htm
Public Library of Science. "Corporate links of global health foundations may conflict with philanthropic interest." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/04/110412171158.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

Share This




More Science & Society News

Friday, July 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

Richard III's Car Park Burial Site Opens to Public

AFP (July 25, 2014) Visitors will be able to look down from a glass walkway on the grave of King Richard III when a new centre opens in the English cathedral city of Leicester, where the infamous hunchback was found under a car park in 2012. Duration: 00:35 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites

AP (July 25, 2014) Emory University's Center for Digital Scholarship has launched a self-guided mobile tour app to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Civil War's Battle of Atlanta. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

University Quiz Implies Atheists Are Smarter Than Christians

Newsy (July 25, 2014) An online quiz from a required course at Ohio State is making waves for suggesting atheists are inherently smarter than Christians. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins