February 23, 2017—Big Pharma pours so much money into patient advocacy groups that the dough renders them mute on the drug price issue, according to a trenchant piece in USAToday.
“The National Patient Advocate Foundation receives 60 percent of its $2 million budget from the pharmaceutical industry, while the Colon Cancer Alliance gets 15 percent of its $1.2 million budget,” says the publication. “Several other groups get up to 20 percent of their revenue from drug companies.”
And surprise, surprise: NPAF and CCA have been harsh critics of the 340B drug discount program.
We’ve highlighted these conflicts of interest before but the alarm can’t be sounded often enough. While there are natural reasons drug companies and disease advocacy groups work closely, the enormous money spent gives the industry a convenient check on organized patient criticism on nearly any issue.
That investment has paid off handsomely in the drug pricing fight now gripping Washington. Currently, insurance companies and health providers are facing off against Big Pharma with hardly a patient in sight. Some patient groups put drug costs far down the list of priorities. “NPAF’s 2015 data on calls from about 14,000 cancer patients shows transportation was the top concern, followed by hospital and doctor co-pays, rent and mortgages and then prescription co-pays,” says the USAToday story.
Such is the power of the drug industry, even as it stumbles consistently in its effort to counter public ire over astronomical prices.
For a more realistic view of the situation, a new report in the Journal Cancer indicates some patients are cutting corners on their own treatment to avoid high drug bills.
340B helps needy patients avoid these impossible situations. Each day, thousands of Americans receive free or discounted medications and clinical services thanks to the program.