Monday, May 29, 2017

None of its alternative treatments are supported by conclusive science.--------Alberta Health gave Calgary oilman Allan Markin's private foundation a $10-million grant to expand an unproven alternative health program after Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the company Markin co-founded, barred the foundation from directly providing the program to its employees.----

We have money wasted on pseudo-science while real science is rejected as in the case of the Biobank.

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/05/01/alberta-tumour-bank-reducing-staff-and-service-after-loss-of-funding

Alberta 'tumour bank' reducing staff and service after loss of funding


FIRST POSTED: SUNDAY, MAY 01, 2016 05:45 PM MDT | UPDATED: MONDAY, MAY 02, 2016 08:48 AM MDT
Cross Cancer Institute in EdmontonCross Cancer Institute in Edmonton. (Larry Wong photo)
Article
Share

Topics

A medical research service that collects and freezes tumours removed from cancer patients is facing questions about its future after losing its main funding source.
The Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, more commonly known as the “tumour bank,” has stopped taking new samples and laid off five staff members after seeing its budget cut by more than half.
The remaining budget is being used to maintain the current collection of 1.5 million tumours and fluids, which are split between storage facilities in Edmonton and Calgary.
“The model we are going to operate on with the bank is going to be a little bit different,” said Dr. Matt Parliament, senior medical director with CancerControl Alberta. “It will be a little bit leaner and it will not continue to grow as it has in the past.”
Established in 2001, the service has been largely funded by the Alberta Cancer Foundation, which has been providing annual grants of about $2 million in recent years. Earlier this year, the foundation informed Alberta Health Services it would not be renewing the contributions, leaving the health authority to shoulder the costs.
A spokeswoman for the foundation did not provide an exact reason for the move, but said funding decisions are often based on the ability to raise philanthropic support, and an evaluation of priorities to drive improved care for patients.
Parliament said AHS decided it couldn’t replace all the funding that was lost but wanted to at least maintain access to the “incredible resource” that had already been built. He said the biobank’s samples, which are all from Alberta patients, and can last indefinitely because they are stored in liquid nitrogen at temperatures around -80 C.
Edmonton’s storage site is at the Cross Cancer Institute, while Calgary’s part of the collection will be moved shortly to the Richmond Road Treatment Centre.
“Researchers can take those samples out of the bank and do experiments to look into the inner workings of the cancer cells,” Parliament said. “They might do DNA sequencing or look at mutations of cancer, to basically broaden the knowledge of cancer.”
The repository is used by about two dozen researchers each year, who must pay fees to access the samples, he said.
Lab technicians accounted for most of the layoffs, four of which were in Edmonton and one in Calgary.
Parliament said additional job losses were planned for Calgary, but staff there managed to find other positions. He said the same may happen in Edmonton, as AHS is trying to find new jobs for the people affected.
The cuts at the biobank are somewhat ill-timed, occurring the same month Mayor Don Iveson announced ambitions to make Edmonton a bigger hub of medical research, innovation and technology.
kgerein@postmedia.com
twitter.com/keithgerein
**
I have asked about the money trail for the Biobank--- to the folks at AHS so I can complain about this business to Hoffman and crew at Alberta Health. 
So far no answers.


From: Julie Ali <
Date: Tue, May 16, 2017 at 11:12 PM
Subject: Re: FW: inquiry from the media
To: Kristin Whitworth <Kristin.Whitworth@albertahealthservices.ca>


Hi,

I recently read that there were funding cuts to the Biobank.

The article I read indicated that there were staff cuts and that there was an end to tissue collection. 



The Alberta Cancer Research Biobank, more commonly known as the “tumour bank,” has stopped taking new samples and laid off five staff members after seeing its budget cut by more than half.



1.    Does this mean that there will be no more ongoing tissue collection from citizens with cancer? Is this a permanent operational change? 

-Won't this impede the development of targeted therapies for patients with specific cancers?
-What about the problems for researchers who want to do longitudinal or epidemiological work?

-How can AHS justify this loss of research material for both patient treatment problems and research difficulties? I mean if targeted therapies are to be developed these tissues are essential and how does the government of Alberta justify the lack of tissue samples to ensure that patients receive the right treatment?
2. If funding has been cut for the collection of the samples what other sources of funding can be accessed to ensure this work of collecting tissue samples continue?
3. How does the Alberta Biobank work with the other provincial banks?
4;. Who accesses the material?

5. Can you provide me with the financial information for the Biobank? I want to know its total budget, the number of staff remaining and the costs for the service. Please don't ask me to FOIP this information as it is in the public interest to know this information and should be in the public domain to begin with.

6. Once I know the money trail I will be writing to Ms. Hoffman and company at the GOA for answers to further questions such as does no one understand that drug therapies that have been developed to date for eg. for breast cancer depended on the presence of a bank of tissue samples collected by scientists and so why is the government ignoring the need for financial support for the Biobank which acts as this source of samples?

These are some of the areas I want to write about but funding is the top issue. 


sincerely,

Julie Ali

On Fri, Apr 28, 2017 at 9:39 AM, Kristin Whitworth <Kristin.Whitworth@albertahealthservices.ca> wrote:
Hi Julie

I am with AHS Communications. I understand you would like information on the biobank. Can you provide a little more information on what you’re looking for?

Thanks

Kristin



Kristin Whitworth BPR MAIPR
Senior Communications Advisor
Provincial Programs
Alberta Health Services
tel: 403-943-1201  cell: 403-671-4397

Follow us on Twitter @AHS_CancerCare

pr-oral-health-month






Email: 

Comments:
Hi,
I recently read of the funding cuts to this program. Can you provide more information?
I am writing about the importance of this biobank.
Sincerely,
Julie Ali

http://www.edmontonsun.com/2016/05/01/alberta-tumour-bank-reducing-staff-and-service-after-loss-of-funding
--
This e-mail was sent from a contact form on the Alberta Cancer Research Biorepository website (www.acrb.ca)


This message and any attached documents are only for the use of the intended recipient(s), are confidential and may contain privileged information. Any unauthorized review, use, retransmission, or other disclosure is strictly prohibited. If you have received this message in error, please notify the sender immediately, and then delete the original message. Thank you.


http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/pure-north-unproven-benefits-1.4053866


Alberta rushed $10-million grant, eliminated ethical oversight, for unproven health program

Review found Pure North program could not prove health or economic benefits

By Jennie Russell, Charles Rusnell, CBC News Posted: Apr 04, 2017 5:00 AM MT Last Updated: Apr 04, 2017 5:00 AM MT
Alberta Health determined the alternative health program offered by the private foundation of a Calgary oilman wasn't adequately supported by science and its high doses of supplements could pose a potential health risk — but the government provided a $10-million grant anyway.
Alberta Health determined the alternative health program offered by the private foundation of a Calgary oilman wasn't adequately supported by science and its high doses of supplements could pose a potential health risk — but the government provided a $10-million grant anyway. (CBC)
1014 shares


Facebook




Twitter




Reddit




Google




Share




Email


Six days before Alberta Health rushed to deliver a $10-million grant to a private alternative-health foundation, the ministry abruptly changed the grant's purpose, eliminating the need for ethics approval for what experts say was a human-subject experiment on thousands of Alberta seniors.
On Dec. 23, 2013, former Progressive Conservative health minister Fred Horne approved the funding to Pure North S'Energy Foundation to expand an unproven, alternative "wellness" program, ultimately to more than 7,300 seniors.
Horne made the decision against the advice of officials from several ministries who had determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by scientific evidence, could not prove the incredible health and economic benefits it claimed, and could cause adverse health effects in participants. The officials also said no funding should be granted without an ethical review of the entire Pure North program.
"Current research supplied by Pure North is unpublished in peer reviewed medical journals," states an internal Alberta Justice document dated Aug. 28, 2013, less than four months before Horne granted the funding. "It is unclear if the results are clinically significant and lead to better health outcomes."
Horne did not respond to interview requests over the past several weeks.
University of Alberta political scientist Jim Lightbody, an expert in public governance, said there are "tried and true" methods for governments to independently determine whether funding a particular project is valid. That includes substantiating the benefits claimed by the organization requesting funding.
"That is why there are guidelines; that is why there is a competitive process (for funding)," Lightbody said. "And it would seem that there was an end run -  consistently - around any attempt to apply that kind of standard testing to this kind of operation."

Pure North collects health information

Pure North is the private foundation of multi-millionaire Calgary philanthropist Allan Markin, the former chairman of energy giant Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. He declined repeated interview requests from CBC News.
The foundation targets vulnerable populations such as the homeless, addicted, seniors and Indigenous people in such places as homeless shelters and on reserves. Its various health programs offer high-dose vitamins and minerals, lifestyle counselling and, in some cases, treatments to remove heavy metals from participants' blood and mercury-amalgam fillings from their teeth.
None of its alternative treatments are supported by conclusive science.
Pure North collects detailed medical information from its participants, including blood samples, and has built a "mega-database" to which university researchers have been provided access.
The foundation, however, insists it is not conducting research but instead gathers data to gauge the efficacy of its program. Its spokesperson, Stephen Carter, told CBC News the information provided to researchers is simply a "secondary" use of that data.
Carter also claims Pure North has many studies that prove the effectiveness of its program. He said 50,000 people have participated in the program without any safety issues.
Tim Caulfield, director of research for the University of Alberta's Health Law Institute, said if the government had consulted him on whether the Pure North program should be funded, "I would clearly say no.
"I don't think there is any evidence to support, for example, the high doses of vitamin D," he said. "Yes, there is interesting research going on. But there is no evidence to support the funding of this kind of level for this kind of service."

Irregularities in funding agreement process

Thousands of pages of internal government documents obtained by CBC News reveal numerous irregularities in how Alberta Health came to provide the funding to Pure North, including that:
  • For more than a year, the Pure North funding request had been classified, and internally analyzed as a research project. Documents show the research project was supported by then-premier Alison Redford. But the documents contain no explanation for why the ministry abruptly changed the grant's purpose on Dec. 17, six days before Horne signed the funding agreement.
  • The change from health research project to an expansion of Pure North's existing seniors program meant Pure North was not required to obtain independent approval from a research ethics board for its activities.
  • The final grant agreement did not contain any detailed project budget, clear description of the program Pure North would offer to seniors, or specific targets the foundation had to meet.
  • The $10-million grant was inexplicably rushed. "We need to execute it this week," Health chief delivery officer Glenn Monteith told colleagues in a Dec. 17, 2013 email entitled "Urgent meeting." A colleague, Lorraine McKay, issued the directive in an email. "10 million (dollar) grant Pure North - right now. To foundation's efforts to support seniors' initiatives. High level - one year, one time," she said, adding, "bolt in some description material" for the grant.
  • A senior Health official personally walked the ministry's payment request to ATB Financial in downtown Edmonton on Dec. 24, the day after the grant agreement was signed.  
  • Pure North's funding was not "gated" or paid in instalments, based on demonstrable performance measures. Instead, Alberta Health gave Pure North the entire $10 million up front, which some academic researchers say is extraordinary.
  • The documents contain no discussion of the potential liability for the Alberta government should Pure North's program cause any of the adverse health effects senior officials had previously identified. In a review of the Pure North program a year after the program started, Alberta's chief medical officer of health warned of potential liability for the province "should things go wrong."
Pure North spokesperson Stephen Carter acknowledged the request for funding started as a research project, but the focus eventually changed to an established program targeting seniors.
"The Government of Alberta, and Alberta Health in general, isn't interested in funding research projects," Carter said. "They're interested in funding health care for Albertans. So they decided to shift the project and we agreed to shift the project to providing direct health care."
Internal documents, however, show that immediately after Pure North received the funding, Markin began seeking access directly through health minister Fred Horne to anonymized patient data from Alberta Health Services. Markin wanted access to the data so university researchers could assess the efficacy of the recently funded seniors program.
Internal documents show Pure North made repeated requests for funding to the Alberta government, which continued after the NDP assumed power in May 2015.
The program for which Pure North had received the $10-million grant ran for 15 months, ending in March 2015.
As part of the funding agreement, the foundation had to submit both a financial report and a brief progress report every three months. When Pure North submitted its final progress report in late May 2015, it asked for another $4.5 million to continue one part of the program for seniors with special health needs.

"No convincing data" to support claims

In response to the funding request, Alberta Health ordered a review of the Pure North wellness program. Two of three reviewers agreed there was no convincing data to support the claim the program would achieve the health benefits claimed by Pure North. The third reviewer thought a more rigorous review of the program would be needed to either confirm or contradict the foundation's claims.
Two reviewers also raised concerns about the quality of evidence supplied by Pure North. They said much of it was self-reported by participants, there was no evidence any benefits were specifically attributable to the Pure North program, and changes to measures of chronic disease didn't appear large enough to be clinically relevant.
"Placebo effects are very common with nutritional supplements and there are concerns that the program may be overstating the benefits of the supplements, enhancing the placebo effect," a summary of the two reviewers' findings states.
Carter insisted the program was a success. As proof, he cited a study conducted by Herbert Emery of the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy.
Emery's study found participants who stayed in the program for two years significantly reduced their visits to emergency rooms and hospitals, saving the system $276 for each Pure North participant.
But all three independent reviewers found a serious problem with how Pure North calculated savings for the health-care system. They said Pure North told the ministry each client cost the program between $1,280 and $2,300 a year.
When Pure North performed its cost-saving calculations, it "used a cost of $500 per year per client.
"It is unclear how the program could be offered at a dramatically lower cost while maintaining the same results," the reviewers' summary states.
"Based on the absolute reduction in hospital visits (2 per cent), we would need to treat 50 people to avoid a single hospital visit," the review's summary states. "Even using the $500 figure, the program cost would be $25,000 in order to save $1,107 in acute care costs."
Two reviewers said the documentation supplied by Pure North didn't support further investment by the government. The third reviewer couldn't make an evidence-based recommendation but felt a more formal review was warranted "due to the pressing need for community-based health promotion in the province."
NDP Health Minister Sarah Hoffman turned down Pure North's request for further funding of the seniors program based on advice from ministry officials.
In an interview, Hoffman said she had no knowledge of how Pure North came to get the funding from the former Conservative government.
If you have any information about this story, or for another potential story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/edmonton/cnrl-true-north-alberta-1.4074961

Pure North alternative health program punted by CNRL months before getting $10M government grant

CNRL co-founder Allan Markin resigned after Alberta company rejected his private health program

By Charles Rusnell, Jennie Russell, CBC News Posted: Apr 19, 2017 6:00 AM MT Last Updated: Apr 19, 2017 11:20 AM MT
A review of the Pure North program done for CNRL found company chairman and Pure North founder Allan Markin was in a conflict of interest. Pure North says it helps patients feel better and live longer.
A review of the Pure North program done for CNRL found company chairman and Pure North founder Allan Markin was in a conflict of interest. Pure North says it helps patients feel better and live longer. (Pure North S'Energy Foundation/YouTube)
419 shares


Facebook




Twitter




Reddit




Google




Share




Email


Related Stories

Alberta Health gave Calgary oilman Allan Markin's private foundation a $10-million grant to expand an unproven alternative health program after Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., the company Markin co-founded, barred the foundation from directly providing the program to its employees.
The decision by CNRL to withdraw its support for Markin's Pure North S'Energy Foundation program also appears to have triggered his abrupt resignation as the company's chairman in April 2012.
Internal CNRL emails show the publicly traded oil and gas company's health and safety committee decided "it was not appropriate" for the Pure North program to be offered to the company's employees after an independent risk-management review "raised a number of issues" about it.
"Importantly, Mr. Markin is in a significant conflict of interest position because of his position as chairman of CNRL and his involvement as a central figure in Pure North," states a memo written by committee board chair Dr. Eldon Smith.
The memo was forwarded to all company employees by CNRL president Steve Laut in a March 22, 2012 email. Smith is the former dean of medicine at the University of Calgary.
Eleven days later, on April 2, 2012, at 2:01 p.m. -- one minute after the stock market closed in Toronto -- Markin notified CNRL staff worldwide in an email that he had resigned as CNRL chairman, and he referenced CNRL cutting off Pure North.
"The withdrawal of CNRL support for your participation in the Pure North program has not deterred my enthusiasm for the program," Markin wrote, adding that employees could still access the program outside of the company.
Laut, Smith, and Markin did not respond to interview requests from CBC News. In an interview last month, Pure North spokesperson Stephen Carter, speaking on Markin's behalf, said he did not know why CNRL withdrew support for the Pure North program. But he said the foundation still treats thousands of CNRL employees.

Aggressive lobbying campaign

A CBC News investigation has revealed that a few months after Markin resigned from CNRL, Pure North launched an aggressive lobbying campaign for funding from Alberta Health with an ultimate publicly stated goal of embedding Pure North's program in the provincial health system.
But although Pure North repeatedly cited the success of its CNRL program, it appears neither Markin nor Pure North disclosed the fact its program had been turfed by CNRL when the foundation sought, and received in December 2013, $10 million in funding from Alberta Health.
As CBC News has previously reported, Alberta Health granted the funding to Pure North against the advice of senior officials, who determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by science, could not prove its health and economic claims, and may cause adverse effects in patients.
Dr. Eldon Smith
Former University of Calgary dean of medicine Dr. Eldon Smith chaired the health, safety and environment committee of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (Alberta Science and Technology Leadership Foundation)
Alberta Health also changed the purpose of the funding from a research study to simply an expansion of an existing Pure North seniors program. That change, made six days before the grant agreement was signed, eliminated the need for ethical oversight of the program, which was ultimately offered to more than 7,300 seniors.
The program collected medical information from participants. Some experts say Pure North was effectively operating a human-subject study without any ethical oversight. Pure North has said it has collected data, including from CNRL employees, to accurately monitor its patients. Provision of the data to university researchers is simply a secondary use, the foundation said.
In its promotional material, Pure North states Markin created the foundation's program. It began as an employee health and wellness program and was eventually offered to thousands of CNRL employees. Markin personally funded the program and used his own airplanes to fly Pure North medical practitioners, including doctors, to remote CNRL work sites.
In addition to high doses of supplements, especially vitamin D, the Pure North program also offered CNRL employees the opportunity to have mercury dental fillings removed. Pure North has said it believes the fillings leach harmful mercury into the body.

Program "not appropriate" at CNRL  

Dr. Eldon Smith, in his memo, told CNRL employees the outside review was prompted by questions about the program and "because of potential cost implications going forward."
CNRL hired consulting firm AON Canada to "evaluate all aspects of the program." Because of issues raised in the consultant's report, the matter was referred to the company's health, safety and environment committee.
The committee reviewed the AON report, Smith said, "as well as documentation from national and international bodies involved in recommending and regulating health therapies. Material from Pure North was also thoroughly reviewed."
Smith said a special meeting of the committee was held on Jan. 30, 2012, and "while there was unanimous recognition of the deep concern Mr. Markin has for the health and welfare of CNRL employees, the committee concluded it was not appropriate for this program to continue to be offered to the health of employees."
CNRL replaced the Pure North program with a conventional employee health program.
After Markin resigned as CNRL chairman, his spokesperson, former Calgary Health CEO Jack Davis, told The Calgary Herald Markin decided to resign without notice because "he wanted to clear the decks and give management and the board of CNRL a chance to make the adjustments they feel they want to make with this departure and not be encumbered in any way by him."
Internal University of Alberta and CNRL documents reveal Markin sought support for his Pure North wellness program a few days before he resigned from CNRL.

Deputy health minister gave endorsement

U of A documents show Pure North sought the support of then-president Indira Samarasekera. Markin has donated more than $20 million to the university.
In a March 30, 2012 email, Pure North executive director Wendy Paramchuk tells Samarasekera that, "Allan has asked if you would consider documenting your view about Pure North and with your permission, he could use to send to CNRL employees to explain Pure North's position. He will need this letter today if possible."
There is nothing in the documents that show Samarasekera provided an endorsement.
Carl Amrhein
Alberta health deputy minister Carl Amrhein provided an endorsement for Pure North when he was provost of the University of Alberta. (CBC)
But an internal CNRL document, sent to all employees, shows Markin received an endorsement from Alberta Health deputy minister Carl Amrhein, who was then provost at the U of A.
"The Canadian health system is not … sustainable in its current form …. Healthy living and prevention must become much more prominent, and Pure North S'Energy offers an outstanding program of education and support for both important issues," Amrhein's endorsement states.
In July 2014, Amrhein also wrote a letter of support for Pure North and Markin that lauded the research data — and financial support — Pure North had given his university's academics.
In October 2016, Amrhein, now deputy minister of health, signed a grant agreement with Pure North on behalf of his ministry. The grant is worth $4.2 million over several years and funds a nurse-practitioner-led, primary-care clinic in Calgary.
Internal Alberta Health documents show Amrhein participated in the Pure North program while he was deputy minister. An Alberta Health spokesperson said Amrhein fully disclosed his relationship with Pure North to the province's ethics commissioner when he assumed that role. Alberta Health declined any further comment for this story.
Ethics commissioner Marguerite Trussler told CBC News she questioned Amrhein about his signing of the October 2016 grant. She said Amrhein told her the decision was made elsewhere and he merely signed the agreement in his capacity as deputy minister, after Health Minister Sarah Hoffman had signed off.
If you have any information about this story, or for another story, please contact us in confidence at cbcinvestigates@cbc.ca.



Before poutine was popular, it was used a way to mock Quebec society, he says.

Canada lays claim to a dish that should be recognized as Québécois.
HUFFINGTONPOST.CA

LikeShow more reactions
Comment
Comments
Don Bester Listened to this guy on a live radio show today, really who gives a rat's a** . Paid for doing this research what a waste of money.

Reply
1
31 mins
Julie Ali They do research on the dumbest things such as the major waste of cash by the GOA on the Pure North Foundation. http://www.cbc.ca/.../pure-north-unproven-benefits-1.4053866 Six days before Alberta Health rushed to deliver a $10-million grant to a private alternative-health foundation, the ministry abruptly changed the grant's purpose, eliminating the need for ethics approval for what experts say was a human-subject experiment on thousands of Alberta seniors.

On Dec. 23, 2013, former Progressive Conservative health minister Fred Horne approved the funding to Pure North S'Energy Foundation to expand an unproven, alternative "wellness" program, ultimately to more than 7,300 seniors.

Horne made the decision against the advice of officials from several ministries who had determined the Pure North program was not adequately supported by scientific evidence, could not prove the incredible health and economic benefits it claimed, and could cause adverse health effects in participants. The officials also said no funding should be granted without an ethical review of the entire Pure North program. ** Not content with the provision of $10 million for a project that was converted to a program to avoid ethical oversight requirements the NDP folks give $4.2 million to a total waste of cash of $14.2 million. All in the name of research on human guinea pigs without any sort of interest of the health dangers to the vulnerable groups being practiced on. Gotta admire government for all the ways it can waste cash on "research".

ReplyJust now

No comments:

Post a Comment