Speed Reads

conflict of interest?

More than 80 percent of patient advocacy groups take money from drug and device companies

More than 80 percent of the largest nonprofit patient advocacy groups accept funding from drug and medical device companies, according to The New England Journal of Medicine. Industry executives sit on the governing boards of nearly 40 percent of the 104 top patient groups, and for some of them, industry donations make up more than half their annual income.

"Patient groups said they have taken steps in recent years to improve their financial disclosures and conflict-of-interest policies, and rejected the suggestion that they were influenced by their corporate donors," The New York Times reports. On the other hand, the president of the National Psoriasis Foundation said advocacy organizations like his and pharmaceutical companies don't necessarily have a conflict of interest because they're both "seeking to help serve the patient."

The study authors called these patient groups' transparency efforts "pathetic." As a possible remedy, they suggest drug and device companies themselves should report how much they donate to patient groups, just as they do with doctors.