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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Masked Marketing: Pharmaceutical Company Funding of ADHD Patient Advocacy Groups

Marnie Klein
Hastings Center
Originally posted June 29, 2017

In 1971, the United Nations passed a resolution prohibiting its member nations from advertising psychotropic drugs to the general public. More than 40 years later, this resolution has done little to halt pharmaceutical companies from marketing stimulants as treatments for attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder. The means by which, and the ethical dilemmas involved when, pharmaceutical companies market their products was discussed earlier this month at the annual PharmedOut conference, which investigated how industry influences medical discourse.

Alan Schwarz, the author of ADHD Nation, exposed how drug companies have, often covertly, sponsored educational resources and patient advocacy groups. These groups face a difficult conflict of interest: by accepting drug company funding, they can increase their reach to those looking for resources; however, their neutrality is compromised, particularly when they fail to disclose the funding source. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that pharmaceutical industry-sponsored advocacy groups may be likely to support drugs, as well as policy proposals, that cater to their sponsors’ financial interests.

One such pharmaceutical company is Shire. One of the British company’s highest-grossing products is Adderall, a stimulant used in treating ADHD that has earned the company billions in sales to date. Shire sponsors ADHD patient-advocacy groups, like Children and Adults with ADHD (CHADD).

The article is here.