Patients' groups should declare pharmaceutical company funding

In the interest of full transparency, patients' groups should declare all sources of funding prominently, states an Editorial in this week's issue of The Lancet.

Many patients' groups would not exist without funding from the pharmaceutical industry. Those that accept money from pharmaceutical companies have an obligation to declare that funding. While most do, the detail is often buried in the small print on websites, states the Editorial. The Lancet highlights the case of the UK charity CancerBACUP, who have described the results for trastuzumab (Herceptin) in early breast cancer as "impressive", and the drug itself as a "breakthrough", in press releases. However, the charity failed to disclose in these releases the fact that the drug's manufacturer sponsors the charity. In some releases CancerBACUP also failed to discuss concerns about the drug's efficacy, adverse events, and cost-effectiveness.

The Lancet comments: "CancerBACUP's failure to discuss these concerns and to mention its drug-company sponsor in a press release on this topic, undermines the group's credibility and raises the question in whose interest the group works. The ABPI says that drug-company sponsorship must be "clearly, firmly and prominently displayed on any project, publications, meeting papers, etc". In the interest of full transparency, patients' groups should declare all sources of funding as prominently as possible."


Contact: Joe Santangelo

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