Freelance writer Tinker Ready delivers a terrific piece in the Washington Post about the ties between drug companies and nonprofit health advocacy groups.
She begins the piece: "Diabetes patients anxious to weigh the pros and cons of an experimental diabetes drug called muraglitazar might expect some help from the American Diabetes Association (ADA). But they won't find much on the ADA Web site.
For example, there is no information about research linking the drug to possible increased risk of fatal heart problems. Also, the Web site has yet to report that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug only on the condition that its maker, Bristol-Meyers Squibb -- which last year donated more than $1 million to the ADA -- produce additional safety data first. The diabetes group acknowledges financial support from the drug maker in its annual report and on a Web page called 'Corporate Health Ambassador Case Study,' but not the precise amount of the donation.
Similarly, if patients have questions on drugs for bone loss, they might think the National Osteoporosis Foundation (NOF) would help sort things out. But the NOF Web site doesn't get into the scientific debate over the long-term effects of Fosamax, the most popular osteoporosis drug on the market. Merck, the maker of Fosamax, is a longtime NOF donor, and it's named in NOF's annual report. But the organization does not disclose how much it gets from Merck and other supporters."
Read the whole piece. It highlights another example of the entanglement of conflicts of interest in the dissemination of health and medical news and information in this country.