Share The Wealth by Chris Gupta
December 17, 2003

Drug firms fund disease awareness

Did you know that many activist/health/environmental/industry associations and groups, in whole or part, are funded by corporations with vested interests as this is the most effective and the best public relations tactic money can buy?

Here is another example....

See also:

Canadian Health Food Association (CHFA) Member Questionnaire

Chris Gupta

Drug firms fund disease awareness
By Gary Hughes and Liz Minchin
December 13, 2003

Pharmaceutical companies are pouring millions of dollars into patient advocacy groups and medical organisations to help expand markets for their products.

They are also using sponsorships and educational grants to fund disease-awareness campaigns that urge people to see their doctors.

Many groups have become largely or totally reliant on pharmaceutical industry money, prompting concerns they are open to pressure from companies pushing their products.

An investigation by The Age newspaper has found: An awareness campaign run by the National Asthma Council was spearheaded by a cartoon dragon that was the registered trademark of a drug company used to promote one individual asthma medication.

A drug company used a public relations firm to set up an expert medical board to persuade people they needed hepatitis A and B vaccinations. The company was not interested in raising awareness about hepatitis C because it did not sell a vaccine for the disease.

Treatment guidelines issued by Australian doctors for some diseases are being modelled by those developed by international groups entirely funded by pharmaceutical companies selling drugs for those same diseases.

Groups funded by pharmaceutical companies are helping lobby the federal Government to have new drugs added to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The health policy officer with the Australian Consumers' Association, Martyn Goddard, who is a former member of the federal Pharmaceutical Benefits Advisory Committee, said pharmaceutical companies had far too much influence over many consumer groups.

"Drug companies find it very easy to recruit consumer groups and they do it very cheaply," he said.

"There's almost no such thing as clean money for most consumer organisations."

The total amount of money flowing into patient groups and medical bodies in Australia is unclear. The most recent figure available from the industry body Medicines Australia shows that drug companies spent between $20 million and $25 million on philanthropic causes in 1999, which mostly covered payments to such groups.

One medical specialist involved in an organisation totally sponsored by drug companies described the situation as like "dancing with the devil".

There are no independent regulations covering drug company sponsorship deals and grants with patient groups in Australia.

Voluntary guidelines developed by Medicines Australia are now being independently reviewed by Swinburne University. The review is being funded by Medicines Australia and individual drug companies.

A South Australian general practitioner, Dr Peter Mansfield, who runs the internationally renowned Healthy Skepticism website, which exposes pharmaceutical marketing techniques, said the hijacking of patient groups had become a huge problem.

"To be an advocate for people with those conditions, those organisations ought to be free to criticise the drug companies - just as they ought to be free to criticise doctors if we are not doing our jobs properly," he said.


Mike Christie
(613) 228-7499 / bus.
(613) 228-7487 / fax. / e-mail

The Laws of Ecology: "All things are interconnected. Everything goes somewhere. There's no such thing as a free lunch. Nature bats last."

by Ernest Callenbach


posted by Chris Gupta on Wednesday December 17 2003
updated on Saturday September 24 2005

URL of this article:



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