[thechat] pure evil: Tobacco giant buys rights to lung cancer drugs

Isaac Forman isaac at triplezero.com.au
Mon Dec 3 05:29:37 CST 2001

This is the definition of pure evil:


Tobacco giant buys rights to lung cancer drugs

Tuesday 13 November 2001

One of the world's biggest tobacco companies aims to make billions of
dollars from diseases caused by cigarettes through deals with biotech
companies for exclusive rights to future lung cancer vaccines.

The plan by Japan Tobacco, which makes Camel, Winston, Mild Seven and Salem,
was condemned on Sunday as cynical and dangerous. If a successful lung
cancer vaccine was found, it would not stop smokers dying of other
tobacco-related diseases. But such a vaccine, promoted by a tobacco company,
could encourage smoking.

"Giving a tobacco company exclusive rights to lung cancer vaccines is like
putting Dracula in charge of a blood bank," said Helen Wallace, deputy
director of GeneWatch UK, which uncovered the deals.

She is worried that one of the biotech companies, Seattle-based Corixa Corp,
aims to patent human lung cancer gene sequences, which may have come from a
smoker unaware of the commercial prospects his genes offered.

Derek Yach, director of the non-communicable diseases cluster at the World
Health Organisation, said: "We tackle lung cancer by breaking the addictive
grip of the tobacco industry and taking action to help people quit smoking
or never start. The last company that should control the rights to a lung
cancer vaccine is one that makes huge profits from products that cause the

Japan Tobacco has paid Corixa for an exclusive licence to develop and sell
vaccine and antibody-based products that prevent or treat lung cancer.

The idea is to use certain proteins in lung cancer tumors to generate an
immune response in the patient.

The other contract, with California-based Cell Genesys, was signed in late

Japan Tobacco has also invested in UK company British Biotech, which is
working on a genetically engineered protein that can dissolve and prevent
blood clots and may help prevent heart attacks and strokes.

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