Intended for healthcare professionals


Patient organizations and conflict of interest

BMJ 2019; 364 doi: (Published 16 January 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;364:l129

Linked research

Patient organisations, NICE, and conflict of interests

Linked opinion

Financial interests of patient organisations

  1. Bethany Bruno, medical and bioethics graduate student1 2,
  2. Susannah Rose, associate chief experience officer and director of research1 2 3 4
  1. 1Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA
  2. 2Department of Bioethics, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH 44106, USA
  3. 3Office of Patient Experience, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA
  4. 4Center for Bioethics, Cleveland Clinic, Cleveland, OH 44195, USA
  1. Correspondence to: S Rose roses2{at}

Voluntary disclosure isn’t working

As non-profit public charities, patient organizations seek to combat particular diseases or disabilities by increasing awareness through outreach and advocacy, providing education and support services for patients, and funding research focused on prevention or cure. Such organizations carry important lobbying power among national governments and often contribute to policy discussions on key matters such as drug approval and insurance coverage. However, given increasing financial pressures, many groups receive corporate funding from pharmaceutical and device companies, which poses a potential conflict of interest. In the linked paper (doi: 10.1136/bmj.k5300), Mandeville and colleagues provide a welcome perspective on this concern by examining the financial interests of patient organizations contributing to discussions of treatment coverage, known as health technology assessments, at England’s National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).1

To evaluate both the prevalence of financial interests among patient organizations and the extent to which NICE’s current policy requires and ensures disclosure, Mandeville and colleagues did a thorough review relying …

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