Professor Sydney Brenner, said more money should be invested in health education than in designing genetically tailored drugs.

He said focussing on healthy living messages would save lives. The molecular biology expert said only drug companies benefited from the current emphasis on medical research.

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "Everything is being driven into the support of the pharmaceutical industry. "There are two kinds of health care. There's taking care of the health of the public and there's taking care of the financial health of the drug companies.

"You hear all these things about the human genome or personalised medicine and newer and safer drugs.

"Maybe what we ought to think about is maybe there is a new public health to be created. Maybe we should start to think of other ways of doing it."

'Saving lives'

Professor Brenner, of the Molecular Sciences Institute in Berkeley,
California, added: "Today everybody does what they like with their bodies and at the end of the day they think the drug companies or medical science will come to their rescue with a pill. That's the standard assumption.

"What we may need is a new appraisal of the relationship of all these things."

He said the growth in obesity in Europe and America was an example of how people looked to science for an answer instead of looking at how their lifestyle might affect their weight.

"Of course all the drug companies are working hard on a pill, but effectively the obesity is self-induced."

He said people were increasingly eating badly and not exercising enough, but Professor Brenner added: "That's treatable by health education, by measures like that - this is government spending which would actually save more lives than anything else."

"Nobody is lobbying for it and that is why I think somebody right at the top has to sit down and say this is going to be national policy."

Source: BBC NEWS