Donations Made and Received: A Study of Disclosure Practices of Pharmaceutical Companies and Patient Groups in Canada

Document Type : Short Communication


1 School of Health Policy and Management, York University, Toronto, ON, Canada

2 University Health Network, Toronto, ON, Canada

3 Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON, Canada


Given the increasing role of patient groups in pharmaceutical policy-making in Canada, this observational study was undertaken to determine whether companies that are members of Innovative Medicines Canada (IMC) list, on their publicly available websites, the names of patient groups that they make donations to and reciprocally, whether patient groups publicly list the names of the companies that they receive donations from. Websites of IMC members were searched for the names of the patient groups receiving donations, value of the donations and year the donations were made. The website of each patient group that was listed as receiving a donation was then searched for information about the name of companies making donations along with the value of the donations, year the donations were made and percent of the patient groups’ income represented by the donation. For donations over $50 000, an attempt was made to match donations that companies made to donations that patient groups received. Eleven of 44 IMC members reported making 165 donations to 114 different patient groups. Seventy-nine of these 114 groups reported receiving 373 donations from IMC members. Information about the value of donations, the year that they were given and received and the percent of patient groups’ income that they represented was limited. Donations made and received could not be matched because of the absence of information about the donations. Reporting on websites about donations by both companies and patient groups in Canada is haphazard, inconsistent and incomplete. Reforms are need to both the way that companies and patient groups report donations.


  1. Lexchin J. Association between commercial funding of Canadian patient groups and their views about funding of medicines: an observational study. PLoS One. 2019;14(2):e0212399. doi:1371/journal.pone.0212399
  2. Kang SY, Bai G, Karas L, Anderson GF. Pharmaceutical industry support of US patient advocacy organizations: an international context. Am J Public Health. 2019;109(4):559-561. doi:2105/ajph.2018.304946
  3. Innovative Medicines Canada. Code of Ethical Practices. Innovative Medicines Canada; 2020.
  4. Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB). Annual Report 2019. Ottawa: PMPRB; 2020.
  5. Member companies. Accessed March 24, 2021. Published 2021.
  6. National Health Council. Membership application for voluntary health agencies. 2021; Accessed August 3, 2021.
  7. von Elm E, Altman DG, Egger M, Pocock SJ, Gøtzsche PC, Vandenbroucke JP. Strengthening the reporting of observational studies in epidemiology (STROBE) statement: guidelines for reporting observational studies. BMJ. 2007;335(7624):806-808. doi:1136/bmj.39335.541782.AD
  8. Batt S. Health Advocacy, Inc.: How Pharmaceutical Funding Changed the Breast Cancer Movement. Vancouver: UBC Press; 2017.
  9. McCoy MS, Carniol M, Chockley K, Urwin JW, Emanuel EJ, Schmidt H. Conflicts of interest for patient-advocacy organizations. N Engl J Med. 2017;376(9):880-885. doi:1056/NEJMsr1610625
  10. Fabbri A, Parker L, Colombo C, et al. Industry funding of patient and health consumer organisations: systematic review with meta-analysis. BMJ. 2020;368:l6925. doi:1136/bmj.l6925
  11. Khabsa J, Semaan A, El-Harakeh A, et al. Financial relationships between patient and consumer representatives and the health industry: a systematic review. Health Expect. 2020;23(2):483-495. doi:1111/hex.13013
  12. Colombo C, Mosconi P, Villani W, Garattini S. Patient organizations' funding from pharmaceutical companies: is disclosure clear, complete and accessible to the public? an Italian survey. PLoS One. 2012;7(5):e34974. doi:1371/journal.pone.0034974
  13. Lau E, Fabbri A, Mintzes B. How do health consumer organisations in Australia manage pharmaceutical industry sponsorship? a cross-sectional study. Aust Health Rev. 2019;43(4):474-480. doi:1071/ah17288
  14. Rothman SM, Raveis VH, Friedman A, Rothman DJ. Health advocacy organizations and the pharmaceutical industry: an analysis of disclosure practices. Am J Public Health. 2011;101(4):602-609. doi:2105/ajph.2010.300027
  15. Ozieranski P, Rickard E, Mulinari S. Exposing drug industry funding of UK patient organisations. BMJ. 2019;365:l1806. doi:1136/bmj.l1806
  16. Ozieranski P, Csanádi M, Rickard E, Mulinari S. Under-reported relationship: a comparative study of pharmaceutical industry and patient organisation payment disclosures in the UK (2012-2016). BMJ Open. 2020;10(9):e037351. doi:1136/bmjopen-2020-037351
  17. Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority (PMCPA). ABPI Code of Practicer for the Pharmaceutical Industry 2021. London: ABPI, PMCPA; 2021.
  18. European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA). EFPIA Code of Practice. Brussels: EFPIA; 2019.
  19. Medicines Australia. Health consumer organisation support reports. Accessed August 4, 2021. Published 2021.
  20. PhRMA principles on interactions with patient organizations. Accessed August 13, 2021. Published 2014.
  21. Rickard E, Ozieranski P, Mulinari S. Evaluating the transparency of pharmaceutical company disclosure of payments to patient organisations in the UK. Health Policy. 2019;123(12):1244-1250. doi:1016/j.healthpol.2019.08.007
  22. An Act to Amend, Repeal and Enact Various Acts in the Interest of Strengthening Quality and Accountability for Patients. Published December 12, 2017.
Volume 11, Issue 10
October 2022
Pages 2046-2053
  • Receive Date: 31 May 2021
  • Revise Date: 13 December 2021
  • Accept Date: 13 December 2021
  • First Publish Date: 14 December 2021