Corrupt to the Core
Memoirs of a Health Canada Whistleblower
By Dr. Shiv Chopra
"Corrupt to the Core" paints a disturbing picture of the internal machinations of a government regulator bent on pleasing its drug company ‘clients’, often with scant concern for the public health implications.
Dr. Shiv Chopra is one of three Health Canada scientists whose testimony before a Senate Committee in 1998 triggered headlines around the world. The scientists testified that Health Canada managers had pressured them to release suspect veterinary drugs into the food chain without the evidence of safety required by the Food and Drugs Act.
One result of these revelations was the widespread rejection of bovine growth hormone (a drug which boosts the milk production of dairy cattle) in Europe, Canada and most developed countries – even though it had been already approved in the USA.
In telling the story of his career, Chopra provides a detailed account of intrigue, manipulation and deception as Health Canada managers scramble to please drug companies – at the behest of their own political masters – by approving inadequately tested drugs. He accuses management of:
- Ignoring a central requirement of the Food and Drugs Act – Health Canada’s raison d’ être – that manufacturers must provide evidence of safety before approval can be given
- Ignoring, sidelining and attacking scientists who would not bow to management pressure to approve drugs without the legally-required evidence of safety
- Arbitrarily approving by fiat veterinary drugs containing known carcinogens and hormones with known serious health impacts
- Refusing to revisit previous drug approvals when subsequent evidence emerged that these drugs were not safe
- Promoting people who showed themselves willing to comply with these deceptive practices, while sidelining scientists who adhered to the law
- Distorting, manipulating or ignoring scientists’ reports on the risks of certain drugs
- Muzzling scientists whose findings were inconvenient to the department, by forbidding them to speak to anyone about their work.
After a promising start, Chopra’s career with Health Canada went nowhere as he repeatedly clashed with management over certain drug approvals. The end came for Chopra and his colleagues a few years after their Senate appearance, when all three were fired simultaneously. They have spent the past four years in hearings before the Public Service Labour Relations Board (PSLRB), as their union battles to have them reinstated.
This book is a ‘must read’ for anyone who wants to understand the intersection between politics and corporate influence, science, and the law, within one of Canada’s most controversial (and litigated) government departments.
Executive Director, Federal Accountability Initiative for Reform (FAIR)
12th November 2008
Corrupt to the Core was Published in 2008 and is available from KOS Publishing Inc.
Disponible aussi en français: Corrompus jusqu'à la moelle des Éditions le mieux-être
The Canadian Medical Association Journal has also published a review of this book by David Hutton.