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Invited Commentary
March 2017

Toward a Healthier Patient Voice: More Independence, Less Industry Funding

Author Affiliations
  • 1Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice, Bond University, Robina, Queensland, Australia
  • 2Sydney Medical School – Public Health, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 3Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  • 4Steering Committee, Cochrane Collaboration, London, England
JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(3):350-351. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.9179

Industry funding strengthens and extends the much-needed patient voice in health care, but at what cost? During the recent EpiPen scandal, the manufacturer-sponsored advocacy groups were largely silent about price gouging.1 Last year a drug company–funded “patient advocacy” campaign called “Even the Score” helped win regulatory approval for the thrice-rejected controversial female sex drug flibanserin.2 And not only does the National Osteoporosis Foundation accept funds from industry, mandatory transparency rules reveal that a majority of the medical leadership received a total of over $450 000 in payments in 2015, including for research projects.3,4 Patient advocacy groups play an increasingly powerful role in health care, sponsoring research, producing or promoting guidelines, driving media coverage, influencing regulatory decisions, promoting certain interventions, and shaping the way we think about disease. Just as the industry funding of clinical trials has been associated with more favorable findings,5 patient groups also face risks of bias when accepting money from companies seeking to expand markets for their new tests and treatments.

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