01.Ken Harvey quits over Swisse deal
Consumer health advocate, Dr Ken Harvey, has resigned his post at La Trobe University in protest against a recent partnership agreement between the university and vitamin company Swisse.
Worth $15m over six years, the money will be used to establish a Complementary Medicines Evaluation Centre at the university. Swisse will use the centre for commissioned research and hopes to put some muscle behind its "clinically proven" claims that have seen it taken to task by the Therapeutic Goods Administration advertising watchdog.
While in favour of complementary medicines research, former Adjunct Associate Professor Harvey argues that industry sponsored research is more likely to report positive outcomes than trials funded by other sources and adds that contract research for industry can be specifically designed to provide a particular result. He’s also concerned that the partnership will present serious conflicts of interest for university staff involved, and that the arrangement will impact on the reputation of the university – given the track record of Swisse.
Swinburne University of Technology, which already collaborates with Swisse, will also be involved in the project. CHOICE understands that Swisse also approached Bond University and also Monash University’s School of Public Health, both of which declined to participate.
For more information see Ken's resignation letter.