Advocacy groups urge CDC to disclose financial ties to drugmakers

Maia Anderson - Print  | 

Several advocacy groups filed a petition Nov. 5 urging the CDC to acknowledge that it accepts commercial support and has financial relationships with drugmakers.

The petition argues the CDC puts a disclaimer in various publications claiming it does not accept commercial support, but it has actually accepted tens of millions of dollars in commercial support through the National Foundation for the CDC.

The foundation is a nonprofit that was created by Congress in 1995 to generate private sector support for the CDC's work, according to STAT.

The petition claims the CDC foundation has accepted $161 million from corporations since 1995, with $79.6 million coming during fiscal years 2014 to 2018.

Pfizer reportedly gave the foundation $3.4 million for a program to prevent cryptococcal disease. Biogen reportedly gave $750,000 in 2018 for a program on screening newborns for spinal muscular atrophy. Merck reportedly gave $1 million in 2018 for a program preventing maternal mortality.

The petition, which cites a BMJ report, notes that Genentech donated $600,000 to the foundation in 2012 as part of CDC efforts to promote expanded testing and treatment of viral hepatitis C. Genentech and its parent company, Roche, make test kits and treatments for hepatitis C.

"The CDC claims that its public-private partnerships are synergistic and beneficial. But these partnerships are incompatible with its disclaimers of no commercial support and no relationships with manufacturers of commercial products. The CDC cannot have it both ways: It must end this oxymoronic situation of defending its receipt of corporate money while simultaneously denying that it does," the petition stated.

The CDC also accepts "earmarked money via the CDC foundation, allowing manufacturers to fund studies or programs whose results would either expand their profits or reduce their liability exposure," according to the petition.

The petition was filed by Public Citizen, Knowledge Ecology International, Liberty Coalition, Project on Government Oversight, and U.S. Right to Know.

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