Thursday, May 31, 2007

Pharmaceutical companies behind push for Ottawa to pay for HIV drugs

It's about time that someone revealed that these patient advocacy groups are totally funded and supported by the pharmaceutical companies. While I think patient groups should be allowed to be formed and pharmaceutical companies should be allowed to sponsor them, there needs to be some transparency.

If any other lobbying group in Canada was 100% funded by one sponsor, they probably wouldn't have a lot of legitimacy. But the Best Medicines Coalition has testified in front of the House of Commons, with a supposed role of being a solely a patient advocacy group. The chairwoman of this group was very ambigious and misleading in describing their funding sources.

During her visit to Parliament earlier this month, Fletcher asked Binder some pointed questions about her group's funding and potential conflict of interest. She told the committee her group receives half its funding from the drug industry and half from Health Canada. Binder said she couldn't name which companies provided money, and said some of it comes from Canada's Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies, an industry association

But during an interview, Binder said the group actually receives 100 per cent of its $250,000 operating budget from the pharmaceutical industry. Although it received half its funding from Health Canada last year, it was an anomaly, in the form of a grant for a research project.
But the articles ends with this:

The Best Medicines Coalition has nothing to hide, Binder said. She said she doesn't conceal where the group gets its money and would even post that information on the group's website if she thought it were "relevant."

But for now, she said, "I don't think it is."
Excuse me, Louise, but you hid the truth in front of a Parliament committee hearing. If you mean what you say, let's see a complete list of donors over the last several years.

Louise Binder is HIV-positive and chairwoman of a coalition that fights for drug-policy reform in Canada. During a recent visit to the nation's capital she urged members of Parliament to rewrite the rules governing prescription drugs that would increase the access patients have to new, expensive medications and require the government to foot the bill.

One thing she didn't mention during that visit is the fact her association, the Best Medicines Coalition, receives 100 per cent of its funding from Canada's pharmaceutical companies - the very industry that stands to profit most from a governmental decision to approve new and expensive drugs for use and coverage in Canada. ...more

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