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Essential Action: Health Coalition Calls on Pharma To Disclose Educational and Charitable Funding

JULY 26, 2007
11:53 AM

CONTACT: Essential Action
Robert Weissman or Sarah Rimmington, Essential Action, 202-387-8030

Health Coalition Calls on Pharma To Disclose Educational and Charitable Funding

WASHINGTON - JULY 26 - 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.

"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.

The full text of the public health coalition letter and list of signatories is available here. Also available at is an extensive collection of news stories documenting problems associated with pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational giving.


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