Informal health-related working groups in the British Parliament receive million-dollar donations from the pharmaceutical industry, according to a new study in the scientific journal Plos One (1).
In the UK there are 146 all-party parliamentary groups, called APPGs, that are health-related and some of them received significant amounts of money from the pharmaceutical industry.
Between 2012 and 2018 pharmaceutical companies handed over almost £2.2 million ($3 million), which is approximately 30 percent of all funding received by 58 of these parliamentary groups.
The money in question was given directly by the pharmaceutical companies themselves or indirectly through patient organizations that also fund the companies. The authors of the study consider them as lobbying tools of the monopolies to elaborate health policy.
APPGs on cancer and health were the biggest recipients of the money. 22 parliamentary groups received 100 percent of their external funding from pharmaceutical companies.
“In the context of health-related APPGs, payments from the pharmaceutical industry represent institutional conflicts of interest, as they create circumstances in which the primary interest (policymaking in the interest of public health) risks being unduly influenced by the secondary interest (the pharmaceutical industry’s goal of maximizing profits),” the study says.
In seven APPG publications on cancer and HIV that had input from external organizations, 28 contributors from 13 different pharmaceutical companies were named. Of these, 19 had paid the APPG publishing the report.
Parliamentary groups in the pay of multinationals are a key part of public policy making and it is clear that corporate money enters the bloodstream of APPGs,” say Emily Rickard and Piotr Ozieranski of the Department of Social and Political Science at the University of Bath.
The British Parliament is currently investigating APPGs, which until now have operated in a stealthy manner (2). Such parliamentary institutions involve external organizations to co-author their publications and receive money from external sponsors to cover their administrative costs and organize events.