Anti-smoking groups look to drug giants for fundingCanWest News service
Monday, January 22, 2007
OTTAWA - The Canadian Cancer Society is about to publish an update to its guide that helps smokers who want to quit.
It cost $75,000 to redevelop the popular book One Step at a Time, but the national charity didn't have to worry about the price. That's because it asked Pfizer Canada, the country's largest maker of nicotine replacement therapy products, to pay the cost.
Pharmaceutical giants are some of the top financial contributors to groups such as the Lung Association, Canadian Cancer Society, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, and other groups.
However, anti-smoking charities, non-profit groups and other organizations rarely trumpet those relationships or the fact they receive large donations, research grants and sponsorships from the makers of drugs they often promote.
"When it comes to characterizing a disease or talking about a treatment, many times it sounds like they're speaking with the voice of their funder," said Alan Cassels, a drug-policy researcher at the University of Victoria.
Charities say financial contributions from pharmaceutical companies are accepted only with a strict "no-strings attached" policy. With limited disclosure and unclear rules, however, it's difficult for consumers to know how drug companies are involved with such groups and what influence they may have.
For Dr. Jerome Kassirer, professor at the Tufts University School of Medicine and editor-in-chief emeritus of the New England Journal of Medicine, the issue is simple: consumers have no way of knowing whether they are listening to a sales pitch from a drug company that's disguised as advice from a charity.
"Would the pharmaceutical companies spend billions of dollars a year if they didn't think it was valuable? Of course not," he said.
© The Edmonton Journal 2007
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Why would any lawmaker continue to listen to any of these pro-smoking ban groups, now that it has been revealed that their agenda is financed by pharmaceutical nicotine interests. Smoking bans are merely a surreptitious pharmaceutical marketing plan.