Pharmaceutical Companies Throwing Money at Patient Advocacy Groups

High profile patient advocacy groups have been accepting donations from pharmaceutical firms for quite some time, new research in the industry has shown. These advocacy groups focus on patients that have many conditions such as cancer, HIV, Alzheimer’s and other big market diseases. These firms almost always accept the funding offered to them from large pharmaceutical companies.

The Problem?

Many of these advocacy groups fail to report that they receive any contributions what-so-ever. Over 80% of all the nation’s largest groups take these contributions from the medical, drug and biotech industries. This however, raises questions regarding whether or not these advocacies are really for the patients they’re “trying to help” and if they’re really putting the patients first. This question has been raised numerous times and was recently discussed in the New England Journal of Medicine.

 The paper’s primary author, Matthew McCoy stated, “If you’re a policymaker and you want to hear from patients, there’s a danger if there’s an undisclosed or under disclosed conflict of interest.” Additionally, “The ‘patient’ voice is speaking with a pharma accent.”

With close to 20 different non-profit advocacy groups, all but five of these have failed to report or disclose to their donors that they receive any type of funding at all, besides the contributions made by personal donors, such as themselves. Only one of all the non-profits stated that they absolutely do not accept industry money at all and wholly relies on money from donors and contributors within the world on a personal basis.

The organizational board of directors at these groups also have conflicts of interest embedded within them, with executives or former executives in the pharmaceutical industry serving on them and making up a third of all chair positions. This is a problem due to the conflict of interest. When the organization wants to do better by the patient, these board members have opposing views on how to go about doing so, sometimes not with the patient’s best interest in mind at all.

Why?

Patients want access to more affordable medications, while the pharma industry wants to maximize their revenues at all costs. Patients want to know what they’re taking, while the industry would rather expedite the acceptance policy without having a lot of background information.This is giving the pharmaceutical company the upper hand within the non-profits that are supposed to be ‘for the patient’, when really they’re being pushed into whichever direction the companies want them to move into, regardless of the patient’s needs or wants. While the clinical trials groups are looking for ways to run the trials, they do need funding. When it is provided through these large corporations, they have no choice but to take the funding and do the trials. This provides them with a way to develop new treatments for numerous patients, even with the big pharma companies breathing down their neck. They want what’s best for the patient, but without the pharma companies, they wouldn’t be able to develop any new medications in the market.

Samantha Skinner is a freelance writer and internet marketer providing quality content and keeping up with the latest in world news. With interests in medical, family, travel and technology, she is passionate about what she writes about. You can follow her on Facebook.