Presidential candidate Joe Biden has recently announced that his not-for-profit cancer foundation, the Biden Cancer Initiative, is suspending its operations. The foundation has been active for the past two years and was an extension of an Obama era program called the Cancer Moonshot. Biden took on the head role at the Moonshot program after his son Beau died of brain cancer in 2015.
It is a bit of a surprise that the Foundation is not part of Biden’s presidential healthcare plan that he recently outlined. The nonprofit company had dozens of partnerships with drug companies, charities, and other organizations that had donated almost half a billion dollars to cancer research.
Biden’s Leave of Absence
Biden and his wife left the executive board when he announced his presidential bid, and the organization has since not performed well without him. Ethical concerns about the foundation have cropped up if he were to win the presidency because much of the money for the foundation came from Biden’s political allies.
Executive Director Greg Simon gave the announcement of the suspension. He had a similar role in the Moonshot program. He said that without Biden, it was tough to get this issue at the top of the “to do” list for healthcare organizations.
The Initiative & Its Partnerships
The organization did receive some direct funding that it used to maintain its operations. However, a majority of the money came from “indirect pledges” where the partner healthcare companies used the money to conduct research. Biden championed these pledges and partnerships during his involvement with the Moonshot program and the Initiative.
At the Initiative’s first major conference in DC, Biden discussed the involvement of more than 50 pharmaceutical companies that were a collection of new pledges and carry overs from the Moonshot program. But since he left, the number of new pledges has dramatically decreased. Some of the initial partnerships were also unsuccessful, according to Simon.
As Biden’s political campaign heated up, the Initiative also came under fire. The interests of the companies that support the foundation would come under strict scrutiny if Biden entered the White House, which could cause ethical concerns. A recent report from the Associated Press actually revealed that some of the companies hailed by Biden were already lobbying the federal government.
In a recent San Francisco conference, Biden praised a health tech firm run by his daughter’s husband and another entrepreneur who invented a medical device. Both of those entities have lobbied the federal government. The nonprofit has also promoted commitments by more than ten other drug firms that participate in lobbying.
Cancer Treatment Under a Biden Administration
Biden’s campaign manager said the Presidential hopeful believes that the only way to cure cancer is through a strong public-private collaboration involving the government and for profit companies. Biden has also said that the Initiative’s operations would be incorporated into a healthcare policy to fight cancer if he were elected.
Simon said the organization will still maintain three board members so they will not have to reincorporate if the Bidens decide to revive the organization.