Health advocacy nonprofits rarely disclose drug industry ties

Nonprofits that influence health policy are getting money in the form of grants from the pharmaceutical industry, according to a study published in the American Journal of Public Health. But they're not disclosing much information about those ties, ProPublica reports in its latest revelation about drug industry ties to health stakeholders.

Researchers who studied more than 160 health advocacy organizations that received funding from Eli Lilly in the first half of 2007 found that only one-quarter of HAOs acknowledged the funding from Lilly on their websites. Groups like the American Diabetes Association and the National Alliance on Mental Illness aren't revealing information about the grants they're getting from drug companies.

The AJPH report underscores concerns about the degree to which a group's source of funding influences advocacy and boosts sales for drug companies making donations.

"Healthcare advocacy organizations' advocacy agenda overlaps with industry marketing interests, making the need to evaluate disclosure practices more urgent," the authors of the AJPH report write.

Although HAOs are not required by law to disclose the names of their corporate sponsors, their advocacy work and the level of public trust they enjoy "makes transparency more obligatory," the authors write.

To learn more:
- read the study in the American Journal of Public Health
- here's the ProPublica blog

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