22 Jul Rx Companies and Anti-Doping Agency Unite to Fight Drug Misuse
In an effort to thwart blood-doping, two drug manufacturing giants, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline, have joined forces to create screenings that would help professional sports organizations identify the misappropriation of drugs such as EPO, a medication originally used to treat anemia. In the past, drug companies have been mum on the issue of anti-doping for fear of attracting negative attention.
According to an article in the New York Times, Roche and Glaxo will begin reviewing new drugs for their propensity to be misused and will reveal results of their analysis to the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA). Per David Howman, WADA’s director general, taking a stance against this issue has actually helped draw positive press, enhancing manufacturers’ reputations as good corporate citizens. In the 2012 London Olympic Games, Glaxo even became the first company to corporately sponsor a testing lab.
Anti-doping organizations have wanted to collaborate with drug companies for quite some time, but efforts at communication haven’t always been the best. Amgen, maker of EPO took a lot of flak in 2006 for backing the Tour of California during a time known for EPO doping amongst cyclists. The sponsorship was meant to bring awareness to the issue of blood doping but actually drew criticism as tests were not even administered for EPO.
Pharmaceutical companies had also been falsely accused of trying to develop drugs that would likely be misused as performance enhancers in order to increase profits. In 2004, it came to the attention of Dr. Olivier Rabin, WADA’s science director, that athletes were already discussing the use of CERA, Roche’s latest version of EPO. At that point, anti-doping authorities alerted the company and asked for assistance. Roche and WABA partnered to construct a blood test for CERA – a process that took several years.
The collaboration gained momentum at the 2009 Beijing Olympics when six athletes were found to have CERA in their systems. Not long after, Glaxo also started working with the anti-doping agency. While these tests are still in their infancy, anti-doping officials are hopeful that results will inspire other companies to also take part in the program.
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