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Republican Senator Charles Grassley is continuing his long-standing investigation into the influences that drug-makers and device manufacturers have on the medical industry by looking into how the top medical advocacy organizations get and allocate moneys received from such parties. Senator Grassley sent letters to 33 organizations this week, including the American Medical Association ("AMA") and the American Cancer Society, requesting details regarding the amount of money that “they and their directors receive from drug and device makers.

Representatives from several of the organizations have publicly stated that they will fully comply with the Senator’s requests.

Grassley sees the issue as one of accountability. “These organizations have a lot of influence over public policy, and people rely on their leadership. There’s a strong case for disclosure,” he said.

Earlier this year, Senator Grassley investigated the Nation Alliance on Mental Illness, finding that more than two-thirds of its donations come from the pharmaceutical industry. As a result, board member Dr. H. Richard Lamb resigned.

When Dr. Lamb joined the board he was shocked to find that approximately half of the alliance’s funds came from the large pharmaceutical companies, yet was assured by officials that those numbers would changed. His resignation was in direct response to the fact that those numbers hadn’t changed at all, and in fact, if one goes by the numbers, they have gotten worse.

The funding presents a conflict of interest. In several cases, Dr. Lamb noted, there should have been warnings against the use of some mental health drugs; however, the warnings were never issued by the alliance for fear of jeopardizing its funding.

The organization’s executive director promised that the funds raised through the pharmaceutical industry would “drop significantly next year.”

It is great to see someone in Congress digging into these issues and trying to overturn the rocks where these practices are hiding. These "money allocations" by the medical device manufacturers and drug makers, who have incredible financial resources and influence at all levels of the government, and over physicians, need to be stopped, or curtailed at a minimum. Thank you Senator Grassley

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