Your article “Patient groups taking cash from drug firms” (15 June 2014) implies that there is an inappropriate relationship between pharmaceutical companies and patient groups, which is simply not true. This article illustrates a lack of understanding of the importance of these relationships, which inform the drug development process and help to create a better understanding of how medicines support better outcomes for patients.
We don’t do what we’re told by patient organisations and they don’t do what they’re told by us – nor should they – and this mutual independence must be respected. It is quite unfair to suggest that patient groups are not capable of managing funding from a number of sources in order to act out their essential role in advocating the needs of the patients they represent.
There are strict rules that govern the relationship between pharmaceutical companies and patient groups, and this forms part of the guidance in the ABPI Code of Practice, administered by the arm’s length regulator – the Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA). The Code requires that all grants and donations to patient organisations are publicly disclosed by the company, including the purpose of the support.
We are always looking for ways to improve our relationship and to promote joint working and collaboration with patient groups within an open, transparent and appropriately governed framework. We help to do this through the ABPI Patient Organisation Forum, which brings together patient groups and the pharmaceutical industry in an open forum for discussion.
ABPI Scotland Director