Pre$cription for Power: Patient Advocacy Groups Take In Millions From Drugmakers. Is There A Payback?
Kaiser Health News (KHN) has launched “Pre$cription for Power,” a groundbreaking database to expose Big Pharma’s ties to patient groups. Pharmaceutical companies gave at least $116 million to patient advocacy groups in a single year (2015 — the most recent full year in which documents required by the Internal Revenue Service were available), reveals the new database logging 12,000 donations from large publicly traded drugmakers to such organizations. KHN examined the 20 pharmaceutical firms included in the S&P 500, 14 of which were transparent — in varying degrees — about giving money to patient groups. Pre$cription for Power is based on information contained in charitable giving reports from company websites and federal 990 regulatory filings.
Even as these patient groups grow in number and political influence, their funding and their relationships to drugmakers are little understood. Unlike payments to doctors and lobbying expenses, companies do not have to report payments to the groups.
“Pre$cription for Power” shows that donations to patient advocacy groups tallied for 2015 dwarfed the total amount the companies spent on federal lobbying. The 14 companies that contributed $116 million to patient advocacy groups reported only about $63 million in lobbying activities that same year.