Industry support for patients groups – risky business

 By Lisa Bero and Lisa Park AustralianPrescriber Volume 44 : Number 3 : June 2021
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Health consumer organisations can include groups specific to a particular condition, such as the Heart Foundation, and health system advocacy groups, such as the Consumers Health Forum of Australia. They play an important role in health care in Australia. Consumer organisations raise awareness about diseases and treatments, fund or conduct research on particular topics, and engage in advocacy for regulatory and legislative reforms that benefit consumers. These groups also educate and provide support to people living with a health condition and gain media attention for consumer issues. 
Pharmaceutical Companies are particularly keen to sponsor group activities likely to lead to more sales, with the bulk of industry money going towards public involvement (communication, advocacy, campaigning, disease awareness) and policy engagement activities. An Australian study identified that industry prioritised payments to health consumer groups that were focused on diseases for which their new drugs were available. Much less goes towards patient support or organisational maintenance.

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