Most EU patient groups get industry money


Over at Pharmalot, Covering Health veteran Ed Silverman reports on one European activist group’s survey of corporate sponsorship and disclosure in patient and consumer groups across that continent. The report focuses on the 23 groups eligible to work with the European Medicines Agency, an agency responsible for the scientific evaluation of medicines developed for use in the European Union. The EMA has clear transparency guidelines, but this report gives a strong indication that they’re often neither followed nor enforced.

euPhoto by dimnikolov via Flickr

HAI [the advocacy group] notes the EMA introduced transparency guidelines in 2005, but by March 2010, 20 of the 23 eligible groups that were surveyed had not yet reported 2006 income online. “Despite the lack of compliance, all organizations were invited to participate in the EMA annual meeting in December 2009,” HAI adds. One problem cited: EMA guidelines do not stipulate a reporting deadline or cycle, and so some groups have not yet met requirements established five years ago.

Here’s a summary of the data:

  • Fifteen organizations were either partly or almost entirely funded by industry-related groups, only seven had fully independent funding. One was unknown.
  • Contributions went up over the three years examined in the study. From Silverman: “The average donation rose from 185,500 EUR (about $235,500) per sponsored organization in 2006, to 282,090 EUR (about $358,00) in 2007, and to 321,230 EUR in 2008 (about $407,800). In percentage terms, the increases amounted to 47 percent, 51 percent and 57 percent, respectively (please note the dollar figures are expressed in today’s values).”
  • Most groups didn’t follow EMA transparency guidelines. Only six seem to have complied with the full letter and spirit of the rules.

The full report is available here (20-page PDF). If you’re just looking for the juicy stuff, scroll to the results table on page 10.


For more news about health care and news coverage in Europe, be sure to visit AHCJ’s new Covering Europe pages.

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Andrew Van Dam