The following is an excerpt from MedPage Today.
Three-quarters of the highest-revenue patient advocacy organizations (PAOs) in the U.S. have board members or senior leadership with ties to the pharmaceutical or medical device industry, a cross-sectional study showed.
Of the 50 PAOs reviewed, 74% had board members with prior or current industry ties, and 50% had paid staff or executives with these ties, reported Reshma Ramachandran, MD, MPP, MHS, of Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut, and colleagues.
Eleven PAOs had executive directors or CEOs with industry ties, and of the 10 highest-revenue PAOs, five executive directors or CEOs had prior or current industry ties, they noted in a research letter published in JAMA Internal Medicine.
PAOs should "advance patient interests through promotion of disease awareness, engagement with policymakers, and partnership with medical product manufacturers in research and development," the authors wrote. "Close leadership ties of PAOs with industry raise questions about industry's influence on these organizations' patient education, policy recommendations, and treatment guidelines."
According to co-author Shamik Bhat, BS, also of the Yale School of Medicine, "the vast majority of these groups have not only financial ties, but now we can see that they also have deep integration in their boards, and their higher-up leadership, with industry."
"What was particularly concerning as well is that some of these organizations had in their leadership people who not only have worked for industry in the past, but currently were actively working for industry, including some CEOs or executive directors," she told MedPage Today. "I think that that degree of ties is a little concerning, to say the least."
Of the 11 PAOs that had executive directors or CEOs with ties to industry, four were also serving on pharmaceutical company boards at the same time: the American Cancer Society (Genentech), the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research (Pfizer), the Cancer Research Institute (Coherus Biosciences), and the Foundation Fighting Blindness (Opus Genetics).
Previous studies have shown financial conflicts of interest between PAOs and industry, and some have also examined executives and board members of PAOs with industry connections. One such studyopens in a new tab or window by Matthew S. McCoy, PhD, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues, showed that 83% of 104 high-revenue PAOs received financial support from industry, and 36% had at least one current drug, device, or biotechnology company executive on the governing board.
"The full scope of this support and the severity of conflicts of interest remain difficult to determine given the disclosures of the organizations," McCoy's group wrote. (Continued...)
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