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$6 Billion in PhRMA Network Grants Flood the Non-Profit World, Muddying the Advocacy Landscape

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new report by Public Citizen has uncovered that the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) and its member pharmaceutical companies — the PhRMA Network — have showered the nation’s largest patient advocacy groups, universities, professional associations, and more, with at least $6 billion in grants. 

“PhRMA Network companies are not mission-driven charities — they have a hardline, profit-driven political agenda that is frequently in conflict with the best interests of Americans.” said Mike Tanglis, research director for Public Citizen’s Congress Watch division and author of the report. “While exactly what the PhRMA Network gets in return for their money no doubt varies by recipient, its vast reach and influence allows the Network to flood the zone with pro-Big Pharma talking points and suppress dissent.”

For this report, Public Citizen analyzed hundreds of documents that included corporate and foundation grants dispersed by the PhRMA Network from 2010 through 2022. Notable findings include:

  • $6 billion in grants to more than 20,000 recipients. The total includes close to $600 million on average over the last five years.
  • 13 of the nation’s largest and most powerful patient advocacy organizations received more than $10 million from the PhRMA Network. In total, the 13 received $266 million
  • Many examples of potential and real conflicts of interest, including the manufacturers of expensive drugs donating millions to the patient organizations representing the interests of those the drug aims to help, op-eds published by PhRMA Network grant recipients criticizing government efforts to rein in drug prices, and lobbyists lobbying for both grant recipient and PhRMA Network donor.
  • Over the last five years, PhRMA Network grant recipients hired 392 lobbyists that were also hired by the grant recipients’ PhRMA Network donors (i.e. an organization receives millions from Eli Lilly and hires the same lobbyist as Eli Lilly). 128 of these lobbyists were hired to lobby on the same bills by both grant recipient and their PhRMA Network donor.

“The PhRMA Network is a formidable force on Capitol Hill, fighting common sense attempts to improve access to the medicines people need to survive,” said Steve Knievel, an advocate for Public Citizen’s Access to Medicines program. “As the White House implements Medicare drug price negotiation and Congress considers further reforms to lower the cost of drugs, this research will be essential for advocates, policy-makers, and political leaders who need to understand which organizations receive PhRMA Network grants and the potential conflicts of interest that they pose.”

To request an interview or further information on the report, please contact Emily Leach at eleach@citizen.org. The full report, available here, includes a visualization of the vast PhRMA grants universe.