A CALL FOR PHARMACEUTICAL
ABOUT ESSENTIAL ACTION
Essential Action is a public health and corporate accountability advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.
We have been a leading player in the global access to medicines campaign over the last decade. Click here for information on our access to medicines campaign.
We have also worked on a diverse array of corporate accountability and transparency campaigns, and have recently launched a project on pharmaceutical industry transparency and accountability. The call for disclosure of industry charitable and educational donations is part of this campaign.
Action International Africa
Action International Asia Pacific
Action International Europe
Action International Latin America
for Medicines, Access & Knowledge
in Science Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Women's Health Network
For Immediate Release July
COALITION CALLS ON PHARMA
Big pharmaceutical companies should disclose all of their charitable and educational grants and gifts, a broad coalition of dozens of public health and consumer organizations worldwide urged today.
See below for the text of the letter and a full list of signatories.
"There is quite extensive evidence that pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational grants have been abused to influence public health and public policy decisions improperly," the public health coalition asserted in a letter sent to the largest pharmaceutical companies and industry trade associations.
Among the signers of the letter are: Essential Action, the American Public Health Association, Families USA, Health Action International regional hubs in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America, Oxfam International and Public Citizen.
"Big Pharma has used its charitable and educational funding to influence key public policy debates, affect doctors' prescribing decisions, and over-promote diseases and drug treatments," says Robert Weissman, director of Essential Action. "Disclosure of industry funding of think tanks, patient groups, and continuing education courses doesn't cure this problem, but it is a start." The Washington, DC-based Essential Action promotes pharmaceutical industry transparency and organized the letter.
Pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational contributions have received special attention in the United States because of widespread abuse of continuing medical education courses. Purportedly educational programs sponsored by industry may improperly promote drugs, including for off-label uses.
Independent consumer groups around the world have repeatedly found industry-funded patient groups promoting particular medicines, and industry-friendly public policies, without sufficient regard for safety concerns.
Public health organizations have also repeatedly confronted industry-allied think tanks and advocacy groups that advance industry-favored policies -- for example, in op-ed pieces -- without disclosing their industry ties.
In May, one major company, Eli Lilly, began publishing its charitable and educational contributions in the United States. The public health coalition letter urges the other companies to follow Lilly's lead, on a global basis.
Adapted for each company, the following letter was sent to the CEOs of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Wyeth, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbott Laboratories, Schering-Plough, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Takeda and Bayer. The letter was forwarded under a cover to the heads of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association of America, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations. A modified version was sent to Eli Lilly, which has adopted a disclosure system for its U.S. charitable and educational contributions, but for overseas contributions.
Jeffrey B. Kindler
Dear Mr. Kindler
We are writing to urge you to publish a complete list of all of the charitable and educational grants and gifts made by Pfizer, its subsidiaries, affiliates and associated foundations. This list should be made available on your company website, include the amounts of each grant and the recipient, and cover grants and gifts made on a global basis. Such a system of disclosure would impose minimal burdens on your company, since it must already compile this information, but the disclosures would have significant public benefits.
There is quite extensive evidence that pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational grants have been abused to influence public health and public policy decisions improperly. For example:
* Purportedly educational programs sponsored by industry may improperly promote drugs for off-label uses.(1)
* Policy think tanks and advocacy groups that receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry often weigh in on important policy debates -- for example, in op-ed pieces -- without disclosing their industry ties.(2)
* Patient organizations receiving industry support often tout products sold by corporate donors, but fail to highlight safety concerns. These groups may also over-promote diseases and drug treatments sold by their corporate donors.(3) They may lobby for inclusion of products on government formularies without disclosing their industry ties, and favor the products of corporate sponsors over others.(4)
* Charitable organizations may be used as a conduit to fund doctors or their research, circumventing normal disclosure requirements and rules.(5)
Disclosing industry funding to charitable and educational organizations is by no means a complete cure for these and related problems -- many of us support much stronger restrictions or outright bans on many industry sponsorship practices -- but it is a start.
The industry has begun to make some modest moves in the direction of disclosure. As you know, one major pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, recently began publishing its charitable and educational contributions, at least in the United States. And the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's code of practice requires disclosure of support for patient groups, though not disclosure of the amounts.
It is time now for each company to fully disclose charitable and educational contribution information, on a global basis.
We look forward to your response.
Agua Buena Human Rights
AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Alliance for Human
American Medical Student
American Public Health
Association of Conscious
Breast Cancer Action
The Center for HIV
Law and Policy
Center for Policy
Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)
Centre for Safety
and Rational Use of Indian Systems of Medicine
Mobilization Project (CHAMP)
of Bangladesh (CAB)
DES Action USA
Federation of Malaysian
Consumers Associations (FOMCA)
The Finnish Consumers'
Forum for Protection
of Public Interest
Global AIDS Alliance
Health Action International
Health Action International
Health Action International
Health Action International
Initiative for Medicines,
Access & Knowledge
Integrity in Science
Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest
KEPKA - Consumers'
for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
Center for Women & Families
National Women's Health
New View Campaign
on Women's Sexual Problems
Our Bodies Ourselves
Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
Association - Association Togolaise des Consommateurs (ATC)
for Essential Medicine
Women and Health Protection
Professor Brook K.
Warren Bell, MD CM
Mardge Cohen, MD
Sean Flynn, Associate
Karyn Kaplan, Director,
Policy and Development
Abby Lippman, PhD
Sisule F. Musungu
Suerie Moon, PhD Candidate
and Doctoral Research Fellow
(2) See, for example, Philip Shenon, "On Opinion Page, Lobby's Hand is Often Unseen," New York Times, December 23, 2005.
(3) Tinker Ready, "Divided Loyalties?; Nonprofit Health Advocacy Groups Like to Portray Themselves as Patients' Allies. Can They Serve Corporate Benefactors at the Same Time?." Washington Post, February 7, 2006.
(4) Thomas Ginsberg, "Donations tie drug firms and nonprofits: Many patient groups reveal few, if any, details on relationships with pharmaceutical donors," Philadelphia Inquirer, May 28, 2006.
(5) Reed Abelson, "Charities Tied to Doctors Get Drug Industry Gifts," New York Times, June 28, 2006.