Jared A. Favole
October 23, 2009
WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- A probe by Sen. Charles Grassley, R.-Iowa, into the ties between pharmaceutical companies and a leading patient advocacy group, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, may show their relationship goes deeper than previous thought.
Grassley’s investigation shows the national group has received more than $28 million from pharmaceutical companies in the last four years. However, that number doesn’t include pharmaceutical contributions given to NAMI’s 50 state chapters or related foundations. Grassley is now demanding that information, according to documents obtained by Dow Jones Newswires.
Earlier this month, Grassley staffers wrote letters to the state chapters of the group demanding they turn over financial information detailing how much they receive from pharmaceutical companies. The investigation is part of a broad look into conflict of interests and how industry influence might be driving prescription drug use.
But more than conflict of interests are at stake. Pfizer Inc. (PFE) is facing a whistleblower lawsuit in federal court in Massachusetts where a former employee alleges the company used NAMI to illegally promote its schizophrenia drug Geodon off label. A company representative wasn’t immediately available to comment.