It's one of those headlines that one would think is parody. You read it right folks, "Comic Relief and GSK Form Five-Year Partnership."
Comic Relief is, in essence, a charity founded in 1985 to try and tackle the famine in Ethiopia. It takes up much of the BBC broadcasting slots under the guise of Red Nose Day, beginning in the afternoon on CBBC, a channel aimed at children, and usually runs throughout the night and early hours of the morning. It's a pastiche of comedy clips featuring world renowned comedians from all over the globe. Their mission - to "bring about positive and lasting change in the lives of poor and disadvantaged people, which we believe requires investing in work that addresses people's immediate needs as well as tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice."
Earlier this year I reported on another children's charity, namely, "Save The Children". I wrote a number of emails to them as I was concerned that a charity, whose main focus was children, had entered into a partnership with a company who had knowingly put children at risk by covering up the suicide link caused by one of their products, Paxil. The series of emails, including responses from Save The Children, can be read here. In short, they told me that they were well aware of Glaxo's history but decided to press ahead with the partnership because, "these risks are outweighed by the benefits of the partnership in helping us achieve our ambitions for children."
GSK are no strangers to Comic Relief. In 2002 they donated $200,000 (Australian) to Comic Relief and announced a fund-raising program in which its drug sales people would visit doctors dressed as clowns. At the time, many accused Glaxo's fund-raising program as having some similarities to its advertising for one of Australia's top-selling anti-depressant drugs. That drug is called Aropax, better known as Seroxat in the UK and Paxil in the US and Canada. (Back story)
It's obvious that GSK will no longer promote Seroxat via smokescreens but the irony is that since 2002 GSK have paid out compensation to victims of Seroxat, including over 3,000 people who became addicted to Seroxat, over 800 women whose children were born with serious heart defects because of Seroxat, and also being found guilty of Seroxat causing, in part, the death of Donald Schell and his family members.
On the surface GSK's £17 million donation and 5 year partnership with Comic Relief seems generous, however, it should, I believe, carry a cautionary disclaimer.
Here's the reason why - Alastair Benbow: The Devil is in the Details
Nothing more needs to be said.