Unhealthy Secrecy

The chairperson of the Best Medicines Coalition (BMC), Louise Binder, recently appeared before the Canadian parliament's health committee to argue the case for patients gaining access to newer and more expensive drugs. When asked who funded BMC, Binder told the committee that half its funding came from the government agency, Health Canada, and the remainder was from the drug industry. However, CanWest News Service reports that the group receives all of its C$250,000 budget from the drug industry. (The Health Canada grant was in the preceding year.) Binder told CanWest reporter Carly Weeks that she would disclose funders it if she considered it "relevant." But she said, "I don't think it is." Alan Cassels, a drug-policy researcher at the University of Victoria, disagrees: "They don't have a disinterested position about the benefits or harms related to the drugs and they will maintain a position that's very much in their funder's interests."