Intended for healthcare professionals


Should patient groups accept money from drug companies? Yes

BMJ 2007; 334 doi: (Published 03 May 2007) Cite this as: BMJ 2007;334:934
  1. Alastair Kent, director
  1. Genetic Interest Group, London N1 3QP
  1. alastair{at}

    Patient groups provide valuable support and advocacy for vulnerable people but funding the work can be difficult. Alastair Kent argues that not accepting industry money will unnecessarily limit the groups' effectiveness, but Barbara Mintzes believes that the money undermines their independence

    By accepting donations from drug companies, patient groups lay themselves open to allegations that they are losing their independence and becoming part of industry's efforts to “sell more pills.” Not taking such money reduces the opportunity that patient groups have to advance their case for better services and support the individuals and families on whose behalf they speak. Damned if they do, and damned if they don't; is there a way to steer through this dilemma?

    There is nothing inherently wrong with patient groups taking money from the drug industry provided that it does not put them under pressure to adopt a position that they would otherwise not choose to take up. Patient groups and industry share some common objectives, so collaboration is reasonable when these mutual interests overlap. Industry can provide core funding, funding for projects or publications, or both. Providing the source is acknowledged and there are no hidden strings, …

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