Holmes Report Blog

The Holmes Report blog focuses on news and issues of interest to public relations professionals. Our main site can be found at www.holmesreport.com.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Transparent Partnerships: The Financial Times examines "Fears Over Side-Effects of Charities' Links with Pharmaceutical Industry" (sub req'd).

In some ways, the discussion over pharma company payments to patient groups seems quaint compared to the debate over physician payments in the U.S. In fact, on the whole I think it's a good thing that patients and the companies that make their medicines are working together. I remember a baffling case in which Glaxo Wellcome created a front group to frighten patients into action when it could far more easily have worked openly with its customers. Open cooperation between companies and patient groups is surely, in principle, a good thing.

But while companies are being open with the patient groups they now work with, they may still be lacking transparency when it comes to disclosing funding. According to the FT, a "new code requires companies to make public a list of the organisations they fund and to draw up contracts setting out their relationship. But there is no obligation to make public the amounts companies donate or the contracts agreed and no financial penalties for violators."

Companies -- and charities -- should disclose the details of these financial relationships. Otherwise, they risk losing the credibility that such joint efforts offer.

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