Big Pharma giving more money to patient advocacy groups

In recent years, major drugmakers like Johnson & Johnson and AbbVie have starkly increased donations to nonprofits with the power to influence legislation in favor of the pharmaceutical industry, according to Bloomberg Government.

Six drugmakers — J&J, AbbVie, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, Merck and AstraZeneca — donated more than $680 million last year to hundreds of nonprofits, such as patient advocacy groups. Many of those nonprofits now campaign against federal legislation proposed to curb drug price increases.

In 2015, the six drugmakers' total donations added up to $321 million, meaning their total contribution has more than doubled.

The nonprofits receiving the donations have more influence over Congress than the drug industry because they represent people suffering from serious illnesses and have more public support, according to Bloomberg Government. Some are now questioning whether drugmakers' donations to such groups are a form of secondhand lobbying.

Patient Access Network, the nonprofit that received the most donations from the six drugmakers in the past three years, joined a list of patient groups that sent a letter to the Senate Finance Committee warning them of "unintended consequences" of the panel's proposal to make changes to Medicare's prescription drug benefit program.

Drugmakers say they get important information about disease management and patient support from the nonprofits they donate to.

Read the full article here.

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