Sacramento Bee Looks at Prescription Drug Industry Ties to Not-For-Profit Organizations
The Sacramento Bee recently published several articles addressing the relationship between drug makers and not-for-profit foundations. Summaries appear below.
- "Health Groups' Funding Faulted": The relationship between "not-for-profit health advocacy groups" and "the definitely-for-profit health industry ... often remains unknown to consumers," the Bee reports. Leaders of advocacy groups say that the not-for-profits "couldn't survive without corporate sponsors" and that "it's natural that chief among them are companies that sell products to treat the ailment," according to the Bee (Griffith/Wiegand, Sacramento Bee, 6/26).
- "Arthritis Foundation Is Open About Funding": The Arthritis Foundation "openly advertises" its corporate donors, many of which are companies that make arthritis medication, the Bee reports. For $175,000, a donor is given the rights "to use the foundation logo and an acknowledgment statement in its product advertising, promotional and other sales materials," according to the Bee. John Klippel, president and CEO of the foundation, said pharmaceutical companies "share some of the same altruistic goals that we have" (Griffith , Sacramento Bee, 6/26).
- "Breast Cancer Group Picky on Donors": Under the funding policy for Breast Cancer Action, a grassroots group that studies the link between breast cancer and environmental factors, the group cannot accept contributions from pharmaceutical, chemical, oil or tobacco companies, health insurers or cancer treatment facilities. BCA Executive Director Barbara Brenner said that the policy has contributed to financial limitations for the organization but that the group considered the tradeoff worthwhile (Griffith , Sacramento Bee, 6/26).
- "In World of Drug Ads, There's a Pill for Every Ill": Pharmaceutical companies' advertisements are "aided by an armada of health foundations and organizations and institutes that bombard consumers with sobering statistical data" about common symptoms, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease and seasonal allergy rhinitis, the Bee reports. However, in the face of recent criticism, companies are beginning to reconsider direct-to-consumer advertising policies (Wiegand/Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 6/27).
- "Bowel Drug Offered Risks as Well as Relief": The case of Lotronex -- a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline -- is a "stark example of how a heavily marketed treatment for a widely publicized but vaguely defined health problem can become a curse," the Bee reports. Prior to the drug's launch, the International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders ran a series of nationally televised segments about IBS aided by the group's "industry council," which included several drug companies that financially supported the foundation. Later, Lotronex was found to be linked to 70 serious adverse events including five deaths (Griffith, Sacramento Bee, 6/27).