Drug companies are giving groups of MPs and peers that campaign on health issues hundreds of thousands of pounds a year in “hidden” funding that could hand them “undue influence” the medical journal PLOS One has revealed. It uncovered the long history of funding by examining parliament’s register of APPGs and drug company payment disclosure reports. Both sources contain information about big pharma’s funding of APPGs, and also its financing of health charities
The pharmaceutical industry has built up a “hidden web of policy influence” over dozens of all-party parliamentary groups (APPGs) at Westminster by making hundreds of “non-transparent” payments to them, as part of the industry’s wider effort to lobby those in power.
“In the context of health-related APPGs, payments from the pharmaceutical industry represent institutional conflicts of interest as they create circumstances where the primary interest, policymaking in the interests of public health, is at risk of being unduly influenced by the secondary interest, the pharmaceutical industry’s goal of maximising profits”, the authors concluded.
Drug companies can use their close relationship with APPGs to argue for policies that favour their commercial interests and have that reflected in reports, all without the public knowing about those links, according to Emily Rickard and Dr Piotr Ozieranski, from Bath University’s department of social and policy sciences.
16 health-related APPGs received 168 payments from 35 drug firms worth £1.2m in 2012-18 – one-sixth of their total funding
Two APPGs, on health and cancer, accepted more than £600,000 in that time
50 health-focused APPGs received almost another £1m in 304 payments from patient organisations or health charities, which themselves take sums of money from big pharma.
“APPGs have an important role to play in holding the government to account and shaping policy by bringing together voices from across the political spectrum and from a range of stakeholders”, said Dr John Chisholm, the chair of the British Medical Association’s medical ethics committee. “However, it is vitally important that there is full transparency around who is behind these groups and what is driving their calls for change. This is especially important for the development of health policy, which must be underpinned by the principle of improving the health of the population, and not risk being swayed by other conflicting interests.”
Drug firms giving MPs ‘hidden’ funding, research shows | Pharmaceuticals industry | The Guardian
Post a Comment