UBC surrendering principles for contract with Pfizer #ubc #bced #bcpoli #education

by Stephen Petrina on November 20, 2013

CAUT, November 20, 2013– Open for Business: On What Terms examines twelve research and program collaboration agreements between universities, corporations, donors and governments to determine if universities have protected their academic integrity.

An agreement between UBC and Pfizer provides a good example of just how much the universities are willing to surrender.

The pharmaceutical industry’s investment in British Columbia is substantial. Pfizer alone has invested approximately $25 million in research and development in the province since 2007. Other drug companies, such as Takeda Pharmaceuticals and AstraZeneca,5 have donated funding to the Vancouver Prostate Centre (VPC) specifically. UBC and Vancouver General Hospital operate the VPC as a National Centre of Excellence and a Centre of Excellence for

Commercialization and Research, with numerous other partners, including Genome Canada, the Canadian Cancer Society, and the government of Canada, contributing in various ways. The collaboration with Pfizer is only one small part of the VPC’s work.

The agreement is not a public document. It was obtained for review through an access to information request, and significant portions of the initial research plan were redacted.

The agreement is silent on academic freedom. It may be presumed from this silence that, for UBC academic staff involved in the project, the academic freedom language of the UBC Faculty Association (UBCFA) collective agreement applies.9 However, as the VPC is a separate legal entity from UBC, there is significant ambiguity on this question. Can UBC faculty members whose research falls under the aegis of the VPC expect academic freedom in their work? We believe they can, and as such, the terms of the agreement threaten academic freedom.

The dissemination of research results is tightly controlled by the terms of the agreement.13 While the agreement recognizes “the traditional freedom of all scientists to publish and present promptly the results of their research,”14 it requires that any proposed publications be presented to Pfizer for review at least 45 days before submission to a third party. This period may be extended by an additional 30 days. If Pfizer finds any material in the publication objectionable, the parties “agree to work together to revise the proposed disclosure or remove or alter the Objectionable Material in a manner acceptable to the relevant Parties,”15 although in all cases the objectionable material must be removed.16 If either UBC or BCCA wish to publish research results that contain material that Pfizer finds objectionable, it must wait six months to do so.

Read More: Open for Business: On What Terms