Objective. The aim of this study was to investigate how health consumer organisations manage their relationships with the pharmaceutical industry in Australia. Methods. We identified 230 health consumer organisations that received pharmaceutical industry support from 2013 to 2016 according to reports published by Medicines Australia, the industry trade association. A random sample of 133 organisations was selected and their websites assessed for financial transparency, policies governing corporate sponsorship and evidence of potential industry influence. Results. In all, 130 of the 133 organisations evaluated received industry funding. Of these 130, 68 (52.3%; 95% confidence interval (CI) 43.4-61.1%) disclosed this funding. Nearly all (67; 98.5%) reported the identity of their industry donors, followed by uses (52.9%), amount (13.2%) and proportion of income from industry (4.4%). Less than one-fifth (24/133; 18.0%; 95% CI 11.9-25.6%) had publicly available policies on corporate sponsorship. Six organisations (7.2%; 95% CI 2.7-15.1%) had board members that were currently or previously employed by pharmaceutical companies, and 49 (36.8%; 95% CI 28.6-45.6%) had company logos, web links or advertisements on their websites. Conclusion. Industry-funded health consumer organisations in Australia have low transparency when reporting industry funding and few have policies governing corporate sponsorship. Relationships between health consumer organisations and the industry require effective actions to minimise the risks of undue influence.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health Policy