Friday, April 30, 2010

Senator Grassley Seeks Disclosure of Drug Company Donations to Mental Illness Groups

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reports that Senator Charles Grassley (Rep., Iowa), as part of a probe into corporate donations to health care charities, has requested the National Alliance on Mental Illness (“NAMI”) to report its efforts to encourage its state chapters to disclose contributions from pharmaceutical companies.  In a recent letter to the organization, Grassley is reported to laud NAMI for disclosing its own pharmaceutical contributions, but also to ask how NAMI is helping state chapters "make their sources of funding transparent" and ensure that they spend money properly, and to inquire whether NAMI would require state chapters to file conflict-of-interest forms.  “NAMI chapters are surely accepting funds from pharmaceutical companies, and some of them have accepted substantial sums over the period of our inquiry," Grassley reportedly asserts in the letter.  The Chronicle reports that the Grassley letter includes a chart depicting NAMI chapters receiving the most drug company contributions from January 2005 to October 2009 – chapters in California ($632,000), Ohio ($623,000), and New York ($448,000).  The largest donors among pharmaceutical companies named in the letter, says the Chronicle, were Eli Lilly ($2.2-million), AstraZeneca  ($1.6-million), and Bristol-Myers Squibb ($1.3-million).  The Grassley letter reportedly follows a December letter in which he asked 33 medical organizations – including NAMI, the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association -- for details about their financial support from pharmaceutical, medical device, and insurance industries.


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