Nonprofit group fighting drug importation has deep ties to PhRMA

 The Partnership for Safe Medicines, a nonprofit group advocating against importing cheaper drugs from foreign countries, has extensive ties to Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America — the drug industry's main lobbying group, reports Kaiser Health News.

Here are five things to know.

1. Numerous lawmakers are proposing drug importation bills that would allow the U.S. to import cheaper medications from Canada and other countries. While some healthcare players believe this will help lower drug costs, a majority of the drug industry opposes importation, arguing it will put patients' health at risk.

2. Partnership for Safe Medicines recently launched a six-figure advertising campaign against the proposed legislation, calling on voters to encourage senators to vote against the measure. While the ads say Partnership for Safe Medicine comprises 170 healthcare organizations that oppose importation, PhRMA's name is not included on the list, according to KHN.

3. However, more than one-third of the organizations in Partnership for Safe Medicines either received PhRMA funding or represent local chapters of groups who received funding, according to a KHN analysis of PhRMA tax disclosures from 2013 to 2015. Only 47 of the nonprofit's 170 member organizations seem to be advocacy groups that did not receive funding from PhRMA during this time period, according to the report.

4. Scott LaGanga, a senior leader at PhRMA, served as executive director of the Partnership for Safe Medicines for 10 years. PhRMA also hosted a conference called the Partnership for Safe Medicines Interchange from 2010 to 2014. This February, Mr. LaGanga resigned from his role at the nonprofit. Shabbir Safdar, the new executive director, said Mr. Laganga stepped down to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest, reports KHN.

5. Partnership for Safe Medicines said PhRMA is a dues-paying member with no larger role in the group's activities, although spokeswoman Clare Krusing declined to say how much each member group contributes, according to KHN. Allyson Funk, a spokeswoman for PhRMA, did not disclose whether PhRMA funds the nonprofit.


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