Sen. Charles Grassley has sent letters to 33 industry groups--including the American Medical Association and American Cancer Society--requesting that the organizations reveal industry funding. The request is part of the Senate Finance Committee's ongoing probe into the influence pharma industry money may have on disease and medical advocacy organizations. "These organizations have a lot of influence over public policy, and people rely on their leadership," Grassley said in the New York Times. "There's a strong case for disclosure and the accountability that results."
The AMA, American Cancer Society and the Alzheimer's Association all said in statements that they would respond to Grassley's request for detailed payment information. The amount of money organizations accept varies widely. The AMA, for example, says that less than 2 percent of its funding comes from industry donations. But when Grassley requested industry donation data from the National Alliance on Mental Illness earlier this year, it was revealed that two-thirds of the group's budget came from industry sources. That entanglement prevented NAMI from freely addressing certain concerns it had with mental health drug safety; doing so would have jeopardized its funding.
Grassley didn't just ask these organizations about their overall funding. In the letters he also requested specific information about how much industry money is being funneled to the groups' directors--a request that's almost sure to lead to some discomfort. He has asked the organizations to respond by Dec. 21.