Olivieri, Apotex, Academic Freedom
Here’s an update from the Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT) about the ongoing legal battle between researcher Nancy Olivieri and drugmaker Apotex. This time, CAUT’s focus is on academic freedom:
A recent lawsuit filed by Apotex Inc. against Dr. Nancy Olivieri is a blatant attack on academic freedom, says CAUT. “Some of Apotex’s allegations in the lawsuit appear to be obviously absurd,” said James Turk, executive direc tor of CAUT. “It appears that Apotex is simply bent on preventing Dr. Olivieri from participating in discussion about systemic issues of public interest.”
“It is extremely troubling that Apotex, which describes itself as a major research company, should appear to have such small regard for the academic freedom that is at research’s very core,” says [CAUT Executive Director, James] Turk. “In my view, university teachers and the public at large should not hesitate to support Dr. Olivieri in opposing such a disturbing lawsuit.”
This is, as many of our readers will know, a landmark case in Canadian research ethics. At this point, what the CAUT story emphasizes is the often overlooked notion of academic freedom that researchers (and ethics review boards) can take for granted. The freedom to speak out is one that allows researchers to meet their ethical obligations by publicizing risk, highlighting adverse events or providing new information about risk or benefit that are uncovered as the research progresses. As James Turk from CAUT notes, the notion of academic freedom in this context, is clearly a matter of public interest.