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, July 05, 2006

A Phantom Row Over Pharma Trip: An article in the Guardian suggests that a “row has broken out” over a trip for British Members of Parliament and officials with cancer-related charities sponsored by pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, which took several key stakeholders to Budapest and Paris to see state-of-the-art treatment facilities, including some prescribing drugs not yet approved or available in the U.K.

The article quotes a spokeswoman for the company (“’This is a purely educational trip. It enables the [participants] to look at best practice… I can’t see the harm in this.”); the head of the Lung Cancer Foundation (“’We’ve fully discussed this trip with our trustees and the board, and felt it was of value.”); and an MP who chose not to attend (“’I didn’t want to go because it was funded by a drugs company.”)

I’ve read the article three times now and I can’t see where the “row” is, unless it’s in the mind of the reporter, who ties the story to “concern about how ‘Big Pharma’ is influencing patients’ groups” and cites a story in the medical journal The Lancet calling for “greater transparency from the charities over where their sponsorship money came from.”

But if a “row” really had broken out, you’d think the Guardian could find at least one source who was prepared to criticize the trip, or tell its readers what was wrong with it.


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