Thursday, January 10, 2013

We might research some cancer treatments while we get rich

The scandal that is CPRIT just gets worse every day.

In an interview this week, Perry said the embattled Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas must regain public trust so it can carry out its dual mission of cure discovery and commercialization.

“The way that the Legislature intended it was to get cures into the public's arena as soon as possible and at the same time create economic avenues (from) which wealth can be created,” Perry said. “Basic research takes a long time and may or may not ever create wealth.”

Perry made the remark in response to questions about the scrutiny CPRIT is facing as a result of two grants, totaling more than $30 million, that were awarded without proper review. The problems, both involving grants to commercialize discoveries, have prompted numerous investigations. 

I just grimaced and moved on when I read this at an early hour this morning, because I am so worn out on Rick Perry that it's just not funny any more. It's his unique blend of insensitivity, piety, and crony capitalism that makes me nauseous at this stage.

Some people understand how crass he is, though.

Legislators and activists contacted Wednesday disagreed with Perry's characterization.

“We're trying to get drugs to the marketplace to help people fight the disease,” said Rep. James Keffer, R-Eastland, who co-authored a 2009 bill establishing the agency after voters authorized it two years earlier. “Our goal is not to make pharmaceutical companies any more wealthy.”

Rep. Craig Eiland, D-Galveston, who questioned the need for commercialization grants at a hearing last month, said “the market should handle the rest” if CPRIT money attracts the best cancer minds to Texas and their research proves promising.

“I believe that the purpose of the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas was to research and develop cures and treatments for cancer, not act as an investment bank or hedge fund to 'create wealth,'” Eiland said. “The state has the Emerging Technology Fund and the Enterprise Fund as business development tools.”  

I can't add anything to what Burka and EOW have already said. How much more of this embarrassment can a state as big as Texas take?

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