WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report update of P4AD’s research into drug industry influence – Hiding In Plain Sight – documents the structure and conduct of three organizations that have garnered increased attention recently purporting to represent the interests of patients, but which in reality serve the interests of those who profit from prescription drugs. The Haystack Project, No Patient Left Behind, and the Community Oncology Alliance present themselves as patient advocacy groups, but each operates to boost the power and profit of the drug industry. This research serves as a tool to help policymakers and news media gain a clearer picture of these relationships, and to shed a light on the groups’ true impact on patients paying high drug prices.
The pharmaceutical industry has long used its riches to influence, create, and in some cases control groups that purport to represent the interests of patients. New groups presenting to have patients’ best interests in mind arise each year cloaking themselves as independent patient advocacy organizations, but in reality serve the interests of those who profit from prescription drugs. To draw attention to the biases of such groups, Patients For Affordable Drugs issued The Hidden Hand: Big Pharma’s Influence on Patient Advocacy Groups in July, 2021. Hiding In Plain Sight is an update to that original report.
“Big Pharma is like an octopus, and at the end of each tentacle is a wad of cash,” said David Mitchell, cancer patient and founder of Patients For Affordable Drugs, which accepts no funding from any organization that profits from the development or distribution of prescription drugs. “Pharma pumps money into physician groups, researchers, academic medical centers, advocacy groups, and the exact funding is almost never disclosed. It is critical for policymakers and news media to be aware of these relationships to make judgments about the pronouncements and activities of these pharma aligned groups.”
The key findings clearly link each organization to drug industry funding and influence. Among them:
- No Patient Left Behind is founded and funded by RA Capital, a Boston-based biopharma venture capital and investment management firm with approximately $10 billion in assets under management.
- The Haystack Project was founded by a pharma lobbyist and is staffed and run by a pharma lobbying firm – Connect 4 Strategies.
- The Community Oncology Alliance is funded by 75 pharmaceutical companies, trade associations, and distributors.
The original report outlines the following questions for policymakers, elected officials, and the news media to ask patient groups advocating on drug pricing issues to understand their connection to the drug industry:
- How much money do you receive from the drug industry and what proportion of your budget does that represent?
- Is drug industry funding fully and clearly disclosed on your website?
- Do you have drug industry representation on your board?
- Do you ever take positions in opposition to your industry funders?
A full copy of the updated report, Hiding In Plain Sight, can be viewed here.
The original report from 2021, The Hidden Hand, can be viewed here.