B.C.s health ministry has fired four employees, suspended three others and asked the RCMP to investigate the conduct of government staff and drug researchers at the University of Victoria and the University of B.C.
Health Minsiter Margaret MacDiarmid said her ministry has provided the RCMP with the preliminary results of an internal investigation that began in May.
The probe examined contracting and research grant practices by ministry employees and drug researchers at the two universities. It allegedly found evidence of conflict of interest and inappropriate contracting and data-management practices.
We take all allegations of this nature very seriously, MacDiarmid said in a statement. I have instructed the ministry to continue to take whatever steps are necessary to respond to these matters thoroughly. We must ensure confidence is maintained in the integrity of the public service to execute its responsibilities in a manner that meets the high standards of conduct expected by the public.
The three employees are under suspension without pay and have had their access to government assets and ministry data frozen.
In addition, the government says it took the following actions:
Two contractors had their contracts and data access suspended.
All ministry data sharing with drug and evidence development researchers has been temporarily suspended.
All work on contracts related to drug and evidence development has been suspended.
All spending for the pharmaceutical services division now requires approval by the assistant deputy minister.
The ministry will tighten its policy regarding awards of contracts to universities. All contracts entered into by the ministry will now be reviewed by the ministrys contract management branch.
'The ministry will engage an independent consultant to review and enhance the ministrys data security measures.
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