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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 14637

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: news

Silverman E.
Astroturfing & Consumer Advocacy Down Under
Pharmalot 2008 Nov 17

Full text:

An upcoming conference devoted to regulating and paying for new medicines, which is co-sponsored by the Australian government and an industry trade group, is drawing fire from an advocacy group that complains a hihg-profile speaker prominently billed as a consumer advocate is a stalking horse for drugmakers.
The brochure for Future of Medicines event, which takes place November 25 and 26, notes that Durhane Wong-Rieger, the founder and head of the Consumer Advocare Network, a national network of patient groups, will discuss the role of the consumer.
However, Healthy Skepticism has protested to the Australian government – so far, to no avail – that Wong-Rieger’s upcoming appearance is an example of astroturfing. She and “the organizations with which she is associated epitomize the globalization of pharmaceutical industry-funded patient organizations,” the group complains.
For instance, Healthy Skepticism charges her network’s web site provides no info about its members or staff, or annual reports; most entries date from 2002 and 2003; public policy positions routinely advance pharma objectives, and some funding comes from PhRMA and Rx&D, Canada’s pharm group (and here is a long list of alleged ties).
But in a recent letter, David Learmonth, the Department of Health’s deputy secretary, wrote Healthy Skepticism that Wong-Rieger is not appearing as a “designated consumer advocate.” In fact, he maintains that her support of industry positions and her industry funding is well known. [Our thought: The brochure does appear to hold her out as a consumer advocate, yet does not disclose any industry ties. This appears misleading].


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