Tuesday June 12, 3:43 pm Eastern Time
SOURCE: Cancer Prevention Coalition
The American Cancer Society Is Threatening the National Cancer Program
Warns Samuel S. Epstein, M.D. and Quentin D. Young, M.D.
CHICAGO, June 12 /PRNewswire/ -- The following was released by Samuel S.
Epstein, M.D., Chairman of the Cancer Prevention Coalition and Quentin
Young, M.D., Chairman of the Health and Medicine Policy Research Group and
past President of the American Public Health Association:
Operating behind closed doors and with powerful political connections, Dr.
Samuel Epstein charges the American Cancer Society (ACS) with forging a
questionably legal alliance with the federal Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC) in attempts to hijack the National Cancer Program.
The ACS is also charged with virtual neglect of cancer prevention.
Dr. Quentin Young warns: ``The ACS political agenda reveals a pattern of
self interest, conflicts of interest, lack of accountability and non-
transparency to all of which the media have responded with deafening
Among their concerns:
-- The National Cancer Act, the cornerstone of the National Cancer
Institute's (NCI) war on cancer, is under powerful attack by the ACS,
the world's largest non-religious "charity". The plan was hatched in
September 1998 when, meeting behind closed doors, the ACS created a
"National Dialogue on Cancer" (NDC), co-chaired by former President
Bush and Barbara Bush, with representatives from the CDC, the giant
cancer drug industry, and Collaborating Partners from survivor advocacy
groups. The NDC leadership then unilaterally spun off a National Cancer
Legislative Committee, co-chaired by Dr. John Seffrin, CEO of the ACS,
and Dr. Vincent DeVita, Director of the Yale Cancer Center and former
NCI Director, to advise Congress on re-writing the National Cancer Act.
-- The relationships between the ACS, NDC and its Legislative Committee
raise questions on conflicts of interest. John Durant, former
executive president of the American Society for Clinical Oncology,
charged: "It has always seemed to me that this was an issue of control
by the ACS over the cancer agenda ... They are protecting their own
fundraising capacity" from competition by survivor groups. The leading
U.S. charity watchdog, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, further
concluded, "The ACS is more interested in accumulating wealth than
-- The ACS-CDC relationship is focused on diverting political emphasis and
funds away from NCI's peer-reviewed scientific research to CDC's
community programs, which center on community screening, behavioral
intervention, and tobacco cessation rather than prevention.
-- There are major concerns on interlocking ACS-CDC interests. CDC has
improperly funded ACS with a $3 million sole source four-year
cooperative agreement. In turn, ACS has made strong efforts to upgrade
CDC's role in the National Cancer Program, increase appropriations for
CDC's non-peer reviewed programs, and facilitate its access to tobacco
-- The ACS priority for tobacco cessation programs is inconsistent with
its strong ties to the industry. Shandwick International, representing
R.J. Reynolds, and Edelman, representing Brown & Williamson Tobacco
Company, have been major PR firms for the NDC and its Legislative
-- ACS has made questionably legal contributions to Democratic and
Republican Governors' Associations. "We wanted to look like players
and be players," ACS explained.
-- DeVita, the Legislative Committee co-chair, is also chairman of the
Medical Advisory Board of CancerSource.com, a website launched by Jones
& Bartlett which publishes the ACS Consumer's Guide to Cancer Drugs;
three other members of the Committee also serve on the board. DeVita
thus appears to be developing his business interests in a
-- The ACS has a longstanding track record of indifference and even
hostility to cancer prevention. This is particularly disturbing in
view of the escalating incidence of cancer now striking one in two men
and one in three women in their lifetimes. Recent examples include
issuing a joint statement with the Chlorine Institute justifying the
continued global use of persistent organochlorine pesticides, and also
supporting the industry in trivializing dietary pesticide residues as
avoidable risks of childhood cancer. ACS policies are further
exemplified by allocating under 0.1 percent of its $700 million annual
budget to environmental and occupational causes of cancer.
These considerations clearly disqualify the ACS from any leadership role
in the National Cancer Program. The public should be encouraged to
redirect funding away from the ACS to cancer prevention advocacy groups.
ACS conduct, particularly its political lobbying and relationship to CDC,
should be investigated by Congressional Appropriations and Oversight
committees. These committees should also recommend that the National
Cancer Program direct the highest priority to cancer prevention.
SOURCE: Cancer Prevention Coalition