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January 06, 2015

Opinion: the Problem With Venture Philanthropy

Venture philanthropy like that which recently produced a $3.3-billion windfall for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation shifts decisions on life-saving medical research from public institutions into private, profit-minded hands, according to a New York Times column.

The disease charity's sale of royalty rights for drugs developed through its investment in a pharmaceutical company "could revolutionize the way medical research is funded," Llewellyn Hinkes-Jones writes. "The problem is that venture philanthropy is, essentially, another term for privatizing scientific research," directing tax-exempt donated funds into efforts to develop drugs that can be marketed at high costs, he says.

"To make medical advancements truly philanthropic, the profit motive needs to be removed from the equation," Mr. Hinkes-Jones writes. "If the intent is to cure rare diseases, then we should be increasing the budget for the National Institutes of Health and other research initiatives."