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After the Obama administration proposed overhauling Medicare Part B earlier this year, a plethora of patient advocacy groups quickly expressed opposition. A new analysis, however, finds that the vast majority of those groups received funding from the pharmaceutical industry, which may come out losers if the proposal goes into effect.

Specifically, 110 of the 147 patient groups that oppose the plan — or 75 percent — have received financial backing from drug makers, according to Public Citizen, the consumer group. The patient groups were identified from signed letters opposing the proposal that were sent to members of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, which is overseeing the overhaul.


Another 241 patient groups, which Public Citizen maintained are mostly associated with doctors or drug makers, also signed letters opposing the overhaul. The findings are based on voluntary disclosures that patient groups and drug makers provide on their websites, according to Public Citizen, which noted that the total amounts of industry backing are mostly unknown.

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  • When I worked for a pharma PR agency we referred to these groups , some of which we were involved in establishing, as astroturf groups – as opposed to grass roots groups. I remember one “group,” supported by a manufacturer of an antidepressant, that consisted of one very depressed woman living in an apartment in Chicago. Pharmaceutical companies don’t give money to patient advocacy groups to support what patients want, they give money to groups that will work for what the pharmaceutical company wants. Ask yourself why a patient advocacy group could possibly want to oppose a policy that would make the purchase of medications less expensive.

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