Essential Action is a public health and corporate accountability advocacy group based in Washington, D.C.

We have been a leading player in the global access to medicines campaign over the last decade. Click here for information on our access to medicines campaign.

We have also worked on a diverse array of corporate accountability and transparency campaigns, and have recently launched a project on pharmaceutical industry transparency and accountability. The call for disclosure of industry charitable and educational donations is part of this campaign.


Health Action International Africa

Health Action International Asia Pacific

Health Action International Europe

Health Action International Latin America

Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge

Integrity in Science Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest

Knowledge Ecology International

National Women's Health Network

Public Citizen


For Immediate Release                                       July 26, 2007
Contact:Robert Weissman or Sarah Rimmington,
Essential Action, 202-387-8030


Big pharmaceutical companies should disclose all of their charitable and educational grants and gifts, a broad coalition of dozens of public health and consumer organizations worldwide urged today.

See below for the text of the letter and a full list of signatories.

"There is quite extensive evidence that pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational grants have been abused to influence public health and public policy decisions improperly," the public health coalition asserted in a letter sent to the largest pharmaceutical companies and industry trade associations.

Among the signers of the letter are: Essential Action, the American Public Health Association, Families USA, Health Action International regional hubs in Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe and Latin America, Oxfam International and Public Citizen.

"Big Pharma has used its charitable and educational funding to influence key public policy debates, affect doctors' prescribing decisions, and over-promote diseases and drug treatments," says Robert Weissman, director of Essential Action. "Disclosure of industry funding of think tanks, patient groups, and continuing education courses doesn't cure this problem, but it is a start." The Washington, DC-based Essential Action promotes pharmaceutical industry transparency and organized the letter.

Pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational contributions have received special attention in the United States because of widespread abuse of continuing medical education courses. Purportedly educational programs sponsored by industry may improperly promote drugs, including for off-label uses.

Independent consumer groups around the world have repeatedly found industry-funded patient groups promoting particular medicines, and industry-friendly public policies, without sufficient regard for safety concerns.

Public health organizations have also repeatedly confronted industry-allied think tanks and advocacy groups that advance industry-favored policies -- for example, in op-ed pieces -- without disclosing their industry ties.

In May, one major company, Eli Lilly, began publishing its charitable and educational contributions in the United States. The public health coalition letter urges the other companies to follow Lilly's lead, on a global basis.

Adapted for each company, the following letter was sent to the CEOs of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi-Aventis, AstraZeneca, Novartis, Merck, Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Wyeth, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Abbott Laboratories, Schering-Plough, Boehringer-Ingelheim, Takeda and Bayer. The letter was forwarded under a cover to the heads of the Pharmaceutical Researchers and Manufacturers Association of America, and the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Associations. A modified version was sent to Eli Lilly, which has adopted a disclosure system for its U.S. charitable and educational contributions, but for overseas contributions.

July 26, 2007

Jeffrey B. Kindler
Chief Executive Officer
235 East 42nd Street
New York, NY 10017

Dear Mr. Kindler

We are writing to urge you to publish a complete list of all of the charitable and educational grants and gifts made by Pfizer, its subsidiaries, affiliates and associated foundations. This list should be made available on your company website, include the amounts of each grant and the recipient, and cover grants and gifts made on a global basis. Such a system of disclosure would impose minimal burdens on your company, since it must already compile this information, but the disclosures would have significant public benefits.

There is quite extensive evidence that pharmaceutical industry charitable and educational grants have been abused to influence public health and public policy decisions improperly. For example:

* Purportedly educational programs sponsored by industry may improperly promote drugs for off-label uses.(1)

* Policy think tanks and advocacy groups that receive funding from the pharmaceutical industry often weigh in on important policy debates -- for example, in op-ed pieces -- without disclosing their industry ties.(2)

* Patient organizations receiving industry support often tout products sold by corporate donors, but fail to highlight safety concerns. These groups may also over-promote diseases and drug treatments sold by their corporate donors.(3) They may lobby for inclusion of products on government formularies without disclosing their industry ties, and favor the products of corporate sponsors over others.(4)

* Charitable organizations may be used as a conduit to fund doctors or their research, circumventing normal disclosure requirements and rules.(5)

Disclosing industry funding to charitable and educational organizations is by no means a complete cure for these and related problems -- many of us support much stronger restrictions or outright bans on many industry sponsorship practices -- but it is a start.

The industry has begun to make some modest moves in the direction of disclosure. As you know, one major pharmaceutical company, Eli Lilly, recently began publishing its charitable and educational contributions, at least in the United States. And the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry's code of practice requires disclosure of support for patient groups, though not disclosure of the amounts.

It is time now for each company to fully disclose charitable and educational contribution information, on a global basis.

We look forward to your response.


Essential Action,
Washington, DC, USA

Agua Buena Human Rights Association
San Jose, Costa Rica

AIDS Healthcare Foundation
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Albanian Consumers Association
Tirana, Albania

Alliance for Human Research Protection
New York, USA

American Medical Student Association
Reston, VA, USA

American Public Health Association
Washington, DC USA

Association of Conscious Consumers
Budapest, Hungary

Breast Cancer Action
San Francisco, California, USA

The Center for HIV Law and Policy
New York, NY, USA

Center for Policy Analysis on Trade and Health (CPATH)
San Francisco, California, USA

Centre for Safety and Rational Use of Indian Systems of Medicine
Aligarh, India

Community HIV/AIDS Mobilization Project (CHAMP)
New York, NY, USA

Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB)
Dhaka, Bangladesh

Consumer Information Network
Nairobi, Kenya

Consumers Union
Khujand City, Tajikistan

DES Action USA
Columbus, OH, USA

Families USA
Washington, DC, USA

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (FOMCA)
Selangor, Malaysia

The Finnish Consumers' Association
Helsinki, Finland

Forum for Protection of Public Interest
Kathmandu, Nepal

Ghaqda tal-Konsumaturi
Valletta, Malta

Global AIDS Alliance
Washington, DC, USA

Health Action International Africa
Nairobi, Kenya

Health Action International Asia Pacific
Colombo, Sri Lanka

Health Action International Europe
Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Health Action International Latin America
Lima, Peru

Health GAP
New York, NY, USA

Initiative for Medicines, Access & Knowledge
Delhi, India/New York, USA

Integrity in Science Project, Center for Science in the Public Interest
Washington, DC, USA

KEPKA - Consumers' Protection Centre
Thessaloniki, Greece

Knowledge Ecology International
Washington, DC, USA

National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy (NCRP)
Washington, DC, USA

National Research Center for Women & Families
Washington, DC, USA

National Women's Health Network
Washington, DC, USA

New View Campaign on Women's Sexual Problems
New York, NY, USA

Oxfam International
Oxford, UK

Our Bodies Ourselves
Boston, MA, USA

Planet Poz
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Public Citizen
Washington, DC, USA

Togolese Consumer Association - Association Togolaise des Consommateurs (ATC)
Lome, Togo

Universities Allied for Essential Medicine
Montréal, Canada

Women and Health Protection
Toronto, Canada

Professor Brook K. Baker
Northeastern U. School of Law
Boston, MA, USA

Warren Bell, MD CM CCFP
Active Staff member and President of Medical Staff
Shuswap Lake General Hospital
Salmon Arm, BC, Canada

Dolors Capellà
Barcelona, Spain

John Carroll
Christian Health Association of Malawi
Lilongwe, Malawi

Mardge Cohen, MD
Cook County (Stroger) Hospital
Chicago IL, USA

Sean Flynn, Associate Director
Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property
American University Washington College of Law
Washington, DC, USA

Andrew Herxheimer
London, UK

Emily Johnston
Philadelphia, PA, USA

Stuart Jones
Wales, UK

Karyn Kaplan, Director, Policy and Development
Thai AIDS Treatment Action Group (TTAG)
Bangkok, Thailand

Gaelle Krikorian
Paris, France

Abby Lippman, PhD
Montreal, Canada

Nicholaus Mamseri
Dar-es-salaam, Tanzania

Sisule F. Musungu
Geneva, Switzerland

Suerie Moon, PhD Candidate and Doctoral Research Fellow
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Cambridge, MA, USA

Kirsten Myhr
RELIS Drug Information Centre
Oslo, Norway

Malgorzata Niepokulczycka, President
Polish Consumer Federation
Warsaw, Poland

Chan Park
Lawyers Collective, HIV/AIDS Unit
Delhi, India

Gordon Schiff
Senior Attending Physician, Cook County Stroger Hospital
Professor of Medicine, Rush Medical College
Chicago, IL, USA

S.K. Smith
Tamarack Communications
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Bill Vaughan
Consumers Union
Washington, DC, USA

Ann Woloson
Prescription Policy Choices
Hallowell, ME, USA

(1) See, e.g., "Warner-Lambert to Pay $430 Million to Resolve Criminal & Civil Health Care Liability Relating to Off-Label Promotion," U.S. Department of Justice news release, May 13, 2004 ("The company also sponsored purportedly 'independent medical education' events on off-label Neurontin uses with extensive input from Warner-Lambert regarding topics, speakers, content, and participants"). For a fuller discussion of this issue, see "Use of Educational Grants by Pharmaceutical Manufacturers," Committee Staff, Committee on Finance, U.S. Senate, April 2007.

(2) See, for example, Philip Shenon, "On Opinion Page, Lobby's Hand is Often Unseen," New York Times, December 23, 2005.

(3) Tinker Ready, "Divided Loyalties?; Nonprofit Health Advocacy Groups Like to Portray Themselves as Patients' Allies. Can They Serve Corporate Benefactors at the Same Time?." Washington Post, February 7, 2006.

(4) Thomas Ginsberg, "Donations tie drug firms and nonprofits: Many patient groups reveal few, if any, details on relationships with pharmaceutical donors," Philadelphia Inquirer, May 28, 2006.

(5) Reed Abelson, "Charities Tied to Doctors Get Drug Industry Gifts," New York Times, June 28, 2006.