UNITE HERE report asks, "Is the American Heart Association for Sale?"
Report documents AHA leadership's financial ties to pharmaceutical & food industries
A new UNITE HERE report has uncovered that the American Heart Association (AHA) and its leadership accept large contributions from individuals and industries—including pharmaceuticals and food service—which have a direct interest in public health policy. The report includes a set of recommendations to help the AHA shore up the public trust that is so essential to its success.
Some examples of these payments, made to the AHA and some of its leaders and members of its Research Committee, are:
Dr. Robert Eckel, a former AHA president, received over $14,000 in 2014 from Sanofi Aventis, a pharmaceutical company that was granted approval in July 2015 for Praluent, an injectable cholesterol lowering drug. Eckel had testified before the FDA on behalf of the drug, and co-authored a 2013 ACC/AHA Guideline concerning the treatment of blood cholesterol.
Dr. Mark Creager, 2015-2016 AHA president, received over $30,000 in 2013 and 2014 combined from pharmaceutical companies Novartis and AstraZeneca.
Dr. Natalia Rost, Board President of the AHA Greater Boston affiliate, received over $15,000 in industry payments in 2014 alone.
Dr. Joseph Hill received over $20,000 in industry payments in 2014. Earlier this month, the AHA announced that Dr. Hill will become editor-in-chief of Circulation, an AHA Journal.
The AHA received over $15 million from pharmaceutical, medical device, and health insurance companies in the 2013-14 fiscal year, including $3.3 million from Pfizer.
For generations, Americans have relied on the American Heart Association's careful analysis and recommendations for how to live long, healthy lives. Rose Marie Robertson, Chief Science and Medical Officer of the AHA, has stated that "We are in the business of saving lives… We are not in the business of fundraising. The trust of the public is the most critical thing we have."
The report concludes that the line between charity and business agendas can become blurred when the AHA and its leadership receive substantial payments from pharma and food corporations.
Given the AHA's influence over public health, UNITE HERE believes the AHA should take concrete steps, outlined in the report, to minimize the potential impact of financial ties to corporations with commercial interests in cardiovascular health, especially to those whose products may pose risks to cardiovascular health.
For immediate release
August 21, 2015