September 26, 2016
Improper inducements to patient organisations or professional associations
Patient organisations and professional associations are expected to support the interests of the groups they represent. They affect health policy and governance through their advocacy work with government and politicians. However, if patient organisations or professional associations accept funding or other advantages from a supplier, it may unduly influence their behaviour. Rather than acting in the best interests of the people they represent and wider public health goals, they may support the interests of a supplier.
For example, a patient organisation may campaign for drugs that actually have little or no benefit over previous medicines, or may advocate for a medicine to enter a market or be added to national reimbursement lists more quickly. This may have the effect of reducing the amount of funding available for other treatments and services in a health system. It may also increase the potential harm to patients, for example through the use of medicines for which the risks are not well known.
Similarly, a professional association may develop clinical practice guidelines that call for the treatment of conditions using products from a funder or funders with a lack of evidence to support the decision. Funding from multiple sources may mean the association advocates for quick use of a product or treatment when an appropriate clinical decision would be to watch and wait to see how a condition develops. If conflicts of interest are not declared and the funding sources are not made explicit, corruption can flourish.