American Journal of Public Health
April 2019 109(4)
Pharmaceutical Industry Support of US Patient Advocacy Organizations: An International Context
Government, Health Law, Health Policy, Ethics
So-Yeon Kang, Ge Bai, Laura Karas and Gerard F. Anderson
109(4), pp. 559–561
Objectives. To examine whether the share of pharmaceutical industry funds allocated to patient advocacy organizations (PAOs) is disproportionately large in the United States relative to other industrialized countries and to compare pharmaceutical companies’ disclosure practices across industrialized countries.
Methods. We examined funding of PAOs among the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies in 2016. We compared funding allocated to organizations across 8 large industrialized countries and pharmaceutical companies’ disclosure practices in each country.
Results. Only 6 of the 10 largest pharmaceutical companies disclosed their financial transactions with PAOs in the United States. All 10 companies disclosed transactions in France, Germany, and the United Kingdom, with varying levels of disclosure in other countries. In 2016, the 6 companies that disclosed transactions in the United States allocated 74% of their patient advocacy funding ($88 million) in the United States.
Conclusions. The disproportionate funding of US PAOs in the absence of any disclosure requirements suggests that the United States should consider adoption of regulatory actions to enhance the transparency of relationships between the pharmaceutical industry and PAOs, and to ensure the integrity of public health decision-making.