Billionaire Soros to fight medical ``corruption''

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - International financier George Soros said Thursday that his Open Society Institute would spend $15 million over three years to fight what he called the corrupting influence of money in medicine.

Soros said he would set up a program to be called Medicine as a Profession (MAP) to combat what he sees as an increasing influence of the profit motive in medical issues.

"There is unanimity among doctors, deans, historians, and health economists that money has never been so much in the forefront of medicine or potentially so powerful in determining medical decisions," Soros said in a speech to the College of Physicians and Surgeons at Columbia University.

"We have never more needed professional ethics to stand out against marketplace forces than now," he said.

David Rothman, a professor of social medicine at Columbia, will chair the program's advisory board.

"There must be more to a profession than marketplace considerations," he said in a statement. "Otherwise, why should professionals be accorded the public trust and discretion to set their own rules and ultimately enjoy the confidence of their patients?"

The idea will be to bring together medical and consumer organizations to work together to monitor and promote quality of care, strengthen the accountability of health care, and debate ethical issues as the protection of patient privacy in the face of new information technologies.

The New York based Open Society Institute is part of the Soros's network of nonprofit organizations.

17:35 04-15-99

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