Drug Companies Provide Slightly More Information

Prescription pillsPrompted by a U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigation into drug company grants to patient groups, other nonprofit groups and educational institutions, Eli Lilly recently posted online its donations for the first quarter of 2007. The company's first-ever public list of donations totals $11.8 million, with the largest grantees being Massachusetts General Hospital's psychiatry department ($825,000) and the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill ($544,500). "The majority of grants are awarded in categories in which the company markets medicines," reports Avery Johnson, but Eli Lilly maintains "there is no connection." Lilly's Alan Breier said, "These grants are first and foremost designed to improve patient care." Eli Lilly intends to update the list each quarter. Other somewhat-transparent drug companies are GlaxoSmithKline, which now posts its grants to European patient groups (which totaled $12.2 million last year); AstraZeneca, which lists its partnerships with UK patient groups (but not its donations); and Pfizer, which recently launched "an online status report on follow-up studies the Food and Drug Administration has required for company drugs already on the market."