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Over a recent four-year period, drug makers contributed more than $72 million to hundreds of United Kingdom patient advocacy groups that lobby and facilitate research into new treatments, and the payments often reflected the commercial priorities of companies making the donations, a new study finds.

Yet transparency about the payments is often lacking, the authors found, underscoring concerns that the pharmaceutical industry may be co-opting patient groups, which frequently work with U.K. agencies to ensure medicines are paid for by the government. As an example, the authors pointed to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence, which runs cost effectiveness appraisals.


From 2012 to 2016, the value of the donations more than doubled – reaching nearly $27 million – while the number of contributions rose 42% to 1,100. All told, almost 4,600 payments were made by more than five dozen drug makers to 500 patient groups, according to the study published in BMJ. Most often, the funding benefited a small number of organizations.

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