Do charities really want to find cures?

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It really is a conundrum. Charities that support research into finding cures and treatments for particular diseases all seem to say that they want to end that illness, to beat it – finally. But, the question is, do they really?

Recently, some voices have been raised against certain of these charities for ignoring potential cures and continuing to be involved in research into new drug treatments; which means new sales and profits for pharmaceutical companies. Likewise, drug companies sell medicines. They get more money from treating illnesses than curing them.

It is hardly surprising that charities are seen as reluctant to find real cures that will put them out of business. You just need to look at the salaries paid to their chief executives.

Of course, similar comparisons can be done across research charities in various countries around the world but that would generate much more data that would, to my mind, make this post less attractive to read. Therefore, I chose just one country and, being British, that one is the UK.

As I have multiple sclerosis, let’s start with the MS Society in the UK. That, according to the last available annual accounts, ending December 31 2014, has seven employees whose salaries are in excess of £60,000 a year. Two of these are between £90,000 and £100,000 of which one, presumably, is chief executive Michelle Mitchell.

Other notable UK charities who are battling illnesses for which research is still needed include Cancer Research UK, British Heart Foundation, Kidney Research UK, Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund, Alzheimer’s research UK, Parkinson’s UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association. There are, of course, many more; this is just an indicative sample.

The chief executives of these charities are paid these salaries, as itemised in their most recently available annual accounts: Cancer Research UK – up to £250,000; British Heart Foundation – £165,000; Parkinson’s UK – up to £120,000; Kidney Research UK – up to £110,000; Alzheimer’s Research UK – up to £100,000; Motor Neurone Disease Association – up to £99,999; and Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund – in excess of £60,000. Note: All ‘up to’ figures should be read as in a £10,000 up to the figure quoted.

Looking at those, mainly, six-figure salaries and you can see that the vocal protesters may have a point or two. It is all very well for a particular charity to be involved with discovering or testing new drugs. That means they can continue in the business of raising money and carry on paying themselves huge salaries.

Now, I am not suggesting that these salaries are not earned, far from it. If they want the best person for the job, they have to pay competitive salaries. But, in doing so, they have to be transparent in their dealings and be genuinely open to new therapies that could cure the particular disease they say that they are committed to defeating.

Nothing would please me more than seeing charities being wound up because cures had been found. What do you think?

Can baby talcum powder cause cancer?

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Campaigners for natural products and natural ingredients are uplifted, albeit maybe only temporarily, as an American court awarded $72 million in compensation to the family of a woman who died of ovarian cancer last year.

I say ‘albeit maybe only temporarily’, as I fully expect the company involved, Johnson and Johnson, to launch an appeal.

The case in Missouri centred on Alabama woman Jacqueline Fox, 62, who died due to ovarian cancer. Her family argued that the disease was linked to the use of baby talcum powder made by New Jersey-based company. Ms Fox had used the product for decades, the court was told.

The jury’s verdict came late Monday at the end of the three-week trial. The jury supported the view of Jacqueline Fox’s family, which argued that the cosmetics giant was “lying to the public” and “lying to the regulatory agencies” about product safety, said lawyer Jere Beasley.

The jury found the company guilty of fraud, negligence and conspiracy – and awarded $10 million in damages plus $62 million in punitive damages.

Her family argued that the leading multinational company knew of talc risks and failed to warn users.

This is the first time damages have been awarded by a US jury over talcum powder claims.

Researchers are divided on the link between ovarian cancer and talcum powder. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies talc used on the genitals as “possibly carcinogenic” because mineral talc in its natural form does contain cancer-causing asbestos. However as asbestos-free talc has been used in baby powder and other cosmetics since the 1970s.

Charity Ovacome says there is no definitive evidence and that the worst-case scenario is that using talc increases the risk of cancer by a third.

In the past, Johnson and Johnson has been targeted by consumer health groups, objecting to some of the ingredients used in its products. In 2012, yielding to consumer groups’ pressure, the company pledged to eliminate two contentious ingredients 1,4-dioxane and formaldehyde, from all products by 2015.

In this case, Johnson and Johnson had denied the family’s claim.

A spokeswoman said: “We have no higher responsibility than the health and safety of consumers, and we are disappointed with the outcome of the trial. We sympathise with the plaintiff’s family but firmly believe the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence.”

She added that the company is considering its next legal options, such as an appeal.




Teenager with cancer receives cruel hoax offer

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How very cruel-minded and warped must someone be to make a fake offer of a $40,000 anonymous donation to pay for a sick girl’s cancer treatment. Yes, you read that correctly, the offer was a fake.

Just imagine how the teenage girl and her family must have felt when they discovered the offer was, in reality, a hoax. Add to that an image of the hoaxer somewhere being gleeful with the pain caused. Let’s hope the police do something.

It is disgraceful, inhumane and inhuman behaviour. It is the callous act of a coward.

Last month, Alexis Gould, of Utah, was diagnosed with stage three neuroblastoma, a cancer that affects the nerves, and her school launched a fundraising effort to help pay for her treatment.

Then Alexis’s family were delighted to learn that an anonymous donor had stepped forward to offer the lump sum. They must have thought that their dream had come true or that their prayers had been answered. But they came down to earth with a massive bump after a few days when Alexis’s mother Emily discovered the money was not there and never had been.

With an amazing attitude of calm, and great fortitude, Emily said to the Press: “It was a little bit hard, but we never wanted it to detract from the genuine love and support that we received from so many.”Alexis 2_edited

So, instead of dwelling on the obvious disappointment or wallowing in self-pity, the family has galvanised itself for action by concentrating on the positives. Emily said: “What others might deem as little acts of kindness, or little acts of love, mean the world to us.

“While $40,000 is a lot of money, it meant no more to me than the people who are struggling, who are living paycheck to paycheck and who donated five dollars.”

A Go Fund Me account has now been set up in Alexis’ name, and in one month has raised $29,000. That’s a tremendous amount but more is needed. Can you help? It doesn’t matter how small it may be; it might seem a cliché but it is true that every little bit helps. You can help this teenager who has just started high school by donating at her appeal site:


Main picture: Huffington Post