A ‘major’ research project into cervical cancer at the VU University’s teaching hospital has been put on hold because of the business interests of a pathology professor.
The project, involving 30,000 women, was part of the run up to a new system for testing for cervical cancer which will involve some women taking samples themselves.
The NRC has revealed that Chris Meijer, who was the ‘driving force’ behind changes in the cervical cancer check-up system, has financial interests in three companies involved in the new tests.
Meijer has shares in and is joint owner of Delphi Bioscience which makes the equipment women can use to take a sample for testing, the paper says.
He is also part owner of Diassay which makes tests for the virus thought to cause some forms of cervical cancer and which is also part of the self-test system. A third company in which Meijer has financial interests is called Self-Screen and was competing for the tender to run the new programme, the NRC said.
Health minister Edith Schippers has already halted the tender process to run the new testing system pending an investigation.
The government decided in 2011 that from 2016, women will be able to opt to take a cervical sample themselves and then send it to a laboratory for analysis. The switch to the new system is based on advice from the national health council dating from 2011 after intense lobbying from business and doctors.
Meijer was an advisor to the council at the time and failed to declare any of his business interests. The VU and national health council are currently drawing up an inventory of Meijer’s outside activities, the NRC said.
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