Booming private industry serves drug companies and government clients
By SUSANNE RUST and CARY SPIVAK
Posted: April 28, 2007
The medical research company hired by the federal government four years ago to update its list of carcinogens moved quickly to add a virus to the list while two of its clients were developing vaccines to combat that same virus.
Today those clients - Merck & Co. and GlaxoSmithKline - along with the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are involved in a controversial push to have every adolescent girl in the nation receive the vaccine against the sexually transmitted human papilloma virus.
Industry analysts predict the vaccines will bring billions of dollars to the two drug manufacturers by 2010.
The federal carcinogen list was prepared by the Constella Group - a North Carolina firm with ties to former U.S. Health and Human Services secretary and Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson.
Constella has received more than $246 million from an array of federal agencies in the past seven years while also working for drug companies the government oversees, the Journal Sentinel found.
While Constella says it has internal controls to prevent conflicts of interest between its government duties and its work for drug and health companies, the government doesn't require corporate contractors to disclose their private-sector clients.