Exposing drug industry funding of UK patient organisations

Drug firms ‘could shape the profiles of patient organisations through heavy investment’ even if they don’t have a say in their content of campaigns or research

Big pharma poured £57m into UK patient charities which could influence NHS drug decision makers, Bath University researchers’ analysis finds, the independent reports Read University of Bath blog.

Key messages

  • From 2012 to 2016 the drug industry donated over £57m (€65m; $73m) to UK patient organisations, with the annual sum more than doubling over the period
  • The funding benefited a small number of organisations and activities related to research and public involvement
  • The industry gave priority to commercially high profile conditions
  • Industry payment disclosures had limited transparency

We’ve been banging the drum about transparency of payment to doctors for years – we’ve even put a moratorium on financial conflicts of interest in the authors of any of our education articles. Not because we think that all doctors who receive money from industry are being influenced to push their agenda – but because we have no way of telling when that’s happening…

At the same time, and rightly, patient groups are becoming more involved in setting things like research priorities, and in guideline development – and we’re campaigning to increase that involvement. but as that involvement increases, it’s also important to make sure that potential industry influence is made transparent.

Piotr Ozieranski, is an assistant professor at the Department of Social and Policy Sciences at the University of Bath and one of the authors of a new analysis which attempts to build a picture of industry funding of UK patient groups.

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