Intended for healthcare professionals


Too close for comfort?

BMJ 2006; 333 doi: (Published 29 June 2006) Cite this as: BMJ 2006;333:13
  1. Andrew Jack
  1. Financial Times

    Drug companies have been told to publish their funding of patients' groups. Andrew Jack says that these groups should open their books too

    When it appeared in 2002 the book Mr Sneeze and his Allergies seemed like any other title in the Mr Men series of children's books, apart from just two exceptions: thousands of copies were distributed free of charge with help from the charity Allergy UK to clinics; and it had two pages at the back citing Piriteze (cetirizine hydrochloride) and Piriton (chlorphenamine maleate), anti-allergy drugs made by GlaxoSmithKline.

    Embedded Image

    A protest organised by the Alzheimer's Society in London last week against the restriction of drugs for dementia. The charity is open about receiving money from Pfizer, which makes the dementia drug donepezil

    Credit: MARK THOMAS

    Regulators ruled that the drug company violated the UK ban on advertising drugs directly to the general public, but the book highlighted the often subtle but powerful links between drug companies and the patients' groups that have become an important force in recent years.

    Earlier this year the UK drugs regulator said it had told Eli Lilly to withdraw an information booklet for doctors that the company had written and funded but that carried only the Diabetes UK logo. Not only did the …

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