Dissident AIDS Database

Politico-socio-economicoLobbyingPropagandaPatient advocacy grop
Promoting Drugs Through Patient Advocacy Groups
 Johnson Erica
  "It's no secret Canada's pharmaceutical companies are lobbying hard to get the products they manufacture covered by provincial health plans. They spend almost a billion dollars a year, trying to influence governments and doctors. Now, drug companies are trying a new strategy - targeting patients. And they're working through a network of organizations more trusted than themselves. Among these patients' groups is The Cancer Advocacy Coalition. The group swept into the media spotlight two months when it released a controversial study on cancer deaths. The Coalition is advocating faster approval of costly cancer treatments. It also wants governments to cover expensive new drugs.What the media did not report was where the group was getting its money from. "Almost all of our money to date has come from pharmaceutical companies in Canada," Pat Kelly, one of the founders of the group told Marketplace.The Coalition is not alone. These days almost every high profile disease advocacy group relies on the financial backing of the drug industry. That has some people worried these groups may be influenced by the corporate interests that pay their bills. Barbara Mintzes tracks how pharmaceutical companies promote their products. She says cozying up to advocacy groups is the latest trend."They get much better credibility if a patient group comes out and says 'this is a good product,' rather than a manufacturer itself saying that the product they produced and that they'll gain from selling is a good product."... Increasingly, governments say, groups demand more coverage of expensive treatments - some of which may have questionable benefits... Meanwhile, The Cancer Advocacy Coalition has obtained more funding from a pharmaceutical company for a national newspaper campaign. The coalition wants politicians to spell out their commitment to cancer issues and drug approvals during the federal election.The Coalition says the ad campaign has nothing to do with the funding it has received. It simply wants to influence public - and government - opinion."
  Airdate : November14,20002000
Just say yes, Mr President: Mbeki and AIDS
 Brink Antony
  South Africa faces particular perils posed by a hugely influential and successful organisation of professional AIDS-drug advocates, the Treatment Action Campaign. The effortless manner in which the TAC pushed Merck around over fluconazole, mobilised public opinion against the drug companies to shame them into abandoning their case against our government over the importation of generic drugs, and won a court order forcing the government to supply nevirapine to HIV-positive pregnant women, are all testimonies to its remarkable power and effectiveness. Led by a vanguard of salaried cadres working full-time, it comprises a wider cohort of volunteer activists and sympathisers in the public at large – 10 000 members, it claims. By positioning itself as a friend of the victimised and of the poor, it has won massive support across a range of constituencies, including the churches and the unions... Apart from spats about how the industry’s largesse should be slushed about by way of grants in the ‘Fight against AIDS’, the TAC’s only significant quarrel with the pharmaceutical corporations concerns pricing. For the rest, their relationship is as cozy as a bourgeois marriage... AC lobbyists are incomparably more valuable to the industry than conventional mercenaries hitting on politicians and journalists, because unlike hired agents, the TAC genuinely believes in the goods it sells for the industry by proxy, and consequently it evangelises about them with the zeal of reborn Southern Baptists... The industry just adores the TAC’s street marches because they make for such potent propaganda. Free too. No amount of expensive advertising can reach into the public mind and reap returns in product support like even one TAC protest... The promises held by the drugs that the TAC promotes are all derived from what one might call official sources: the companies themselves spinning marketing propaganda, other industry-sponsored AIDS organisations, industry-sponsored treatment-information clearing-houses, industry-sponsored researchers, and industry-manipulated health bureaucracies such as the US Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health... The TAC however, asks no questions about the integrity of the information it receives from its approved sources regarding the efficacy and safety of its favoured nostrums...  In campaigning for AZT and nevirapine, the TAC’s express charge is that in health policy, the African National Congress in government is a quisling to the poor, a betrayer of the black proletarian insurrection. We care, says TAC chief Zachie Achmat, not the party anymore: “…