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[e-drug] Sign-On: Drug Companies Should Disclose Charitable and Educational Contributions

E-DRUG: Sign-On: Drug Companies Should Disclose Charitable and Educational 
Contributions
-----------------------------------------

Dear Friends,

As you may have seen, Eli Lilly announced in May that it is now 
disclosing its charitable and educational contributions, at least in the 
United States. Disclosure of pharmaceutical industry funding to 
charitable and educational organizations is by no means a complete cure 
for the problems related to such sponsorships, but it is a start.

I am writing to ask you to join a sign-on letter asking all other major 
pharmaceutical companies to follow Lilly's lead, but to disclose all 
contributions on a global basis. (We will also ask PhRMA and the IFPMA 
to adopt policies recommending member companies make such disclosures; 
and for Lilly to broaden its policy to the entire world (which it says 
it is considering).)

For background material on the issue, please see our website, at 
<www.pharmadisclose.org>.

The sign-on letter is reproduced below. To add your name to the call, 
send your organization's name (or your name and organizational 
affiliation, if any, if you would like to sign as an individual), your 
mailing address and email address to: <Marcia@essential.org> or 
<pharmadisclose@gmail.com>. Please send your endorsement no later than 
June 20, 2007.

Best,

Robert Weissman
Essential Action
202-387-8030
rob@essential.org

*     *     *

Dear [Company],

We are writing to urge you to publish a complete list of all of the 
charitable and educational grants and gifts made by [Company], 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.

Sincerely,

Essential Action,
Washington, DC, USA

Alliance for Human Research Protection
New York, USA

Health Action International Africa
Nairobi, Kenya

Health Action International Asia Pacific
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Health Action International Europe
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Health Action International Latin America
Lima, Peru

Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge
Delhi, India/New York, USA

Integrity in Science Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Washington, DC, USA

Knowledge Ecology International
Washington, DC, USA

National Women's Health Network,
Washington, DC, USA

PharmedOut
Washington, DC, USA

Public Citizen,
Washington, DC, USA


(1) See, e.g., "Warner-Lambert to Pay $430 Million to Resolve Criminal & 
Civil Health Care Liability Relating to Off-Label Promotion," U.S. 
Department of Justice news release, May 13, 2004 ("The company also 
sponsored purportedly 'independent medical education' events on 
off-label Neurontin uses with extensive input from Warner-Lambert 
regarding topics, speakers, content, and participants"). For a fuller 
discussion of this issue, see "Use of Educational Grants by 
Pharmaceutical Manufacturers," Committee Staff, Committee on Finance, 
U.S. Senate, April 2007.

(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.


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