Yes it's all the usual suspects including Lilly, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, etc., once again. This time around Senator Grassley's request was for funding disclosure @ the State Level (we already knew NAMI was getting the vast majority of it's finding @ the national level directly from the Pharmaceutical Industry). So it is no surprise at all that the same thing was happening at the NAMI State chapter level as well.
I guess what is so alarming about these findings, is that there are many naive' people still today entrusting these NAMI Paid Pharma Marketing Fronts that continue to portray themselves as true patient & family advocates. Even if the vast mountain of evidence speaks that they are in fact advocates for nothing much other than being a cheesy marketing tool by Pharma for a dangerous & failed drugging modality.
It was not that long ago that NAMI was actually running their own ( Dog and Pony Show) question and answer polls to see if they could somehow deflect/spin this obviously torrid conflict of interest and public relations nightmare, while still continuing to rake in countless millions as Big Pharma's whipping post marketing tool.
This follows right along with a similar strategy/tactic that Big Pharma employs consistently when they get caught (with their hands in your health and wallet cookie jar) involved in unethical and criminal practices.
NAMI (like Pharma), run a huge well funded PR campaigns in an attempt at deflecting their well evidenced egregious behaviors. Yet it truth, it's all just more of the same old tired smoke and mirrors show, so they can continue along with their profitable, unethical, and even criminal doing business as usual routine.
The latest chapter in the saga involving the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, and the amount of money accepted from the pharmaceutical industry has millions being contributed to NAMI state chapters. And Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, who has been probing the relationship between patient groups and drugmakers and how this may influence the practice of medicine, wants to know what the national organization is doing to make the state chapters more transparent, and how the money is used.
You may recall that a majority of donations made to NAMI, a big advocacy group, have come from drugmakers in recent years. And the disclosure comes after protracted criticism of NAMI for coordinating lobbying efforts with drug makers and pushing legislation that also benefits the pharma industry. NAMI subsequently promised to accept less pharma funding (background). Until recently, NAMI refused for years to disclose specifics of its fund-raising. But according to Grassley, between 2006 and 2008, drugmakers contributed nearly $23 million to NAMI, or about three-quarters of its donations.
Now, in an April 26 letter to NAMI officials, he notes that state chapters are also big beneficiaries. California’s chapter received $632,000 last year (see here), while the Ohio chapter got $623,000 from drugmakers. Looked at another way, Lilly ponied up $2.2 million, AstraZeneca donated $1.6 million and Bristol-Myers Squibb gave $1.3 million. All three drugmakers market antipsychotics. The info was obtained by querying each state chapter, although Grassley is miffed that the Alabama, Arizona, Connecticutt and Hawaii chapters ignored him.
UPDATE April 28, 2010
From the Pharma Marketing Blog -
By John Mack
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) until recently was reluctant to reveal the source of its funding. But thanks to Sen. Grassley we now can learn NAMI's sources for Major Foundation and Corporate Support, which you can find here.
I downloaded the list of "funders" for 2009. Fortunately, unlike pharmaceutical companies who have revealed monies paid to physicians (see, for example, "Transparency Vs. Translucency in Reporting Physician Payments"), NAMI's numbers are easy to copy into Excel spreadsheets and analyze.
In 2009, NAMI received 84 payments over $5,000 from different sources. Payments total $4,737,610.00 of which $3,836,750.00 (81%) came from major pharmaceutical companies. The following pie chart shows how the $3,836,750.00 was divided among major pharma funders (click on the chart for an enlarged view).
Lilly was next on the list having donated $750,500.00 to NAMI in 2009. Recall that Lilly markets Cymbalta and that it recently received a warning letter from the FDA about misleading a Cymablta print ad -- ie, re: "omission of risk information." Cymbalta is indicated for treatment of depression among many other things these days (see "The Cymbalta Buzz Machine is at Full Throttle!").
The third biggest NAMI pharma "funder" for 2009 was BMS, which donated $506,250.00. Recall that BMS markets the drug Abilify for bipolar disorder. Some time ago, Andy Behrman -- BMS's patient spokesperson for Abilify -- went on a campaign against the very product he endorsed for money (see "Andy Behrman, Now an Anti-BMS Spokesperson, Says 'Ask Your Doctor If Abilify is Wrong for You'").
It's a crazy, crazy world out there in the marketing of mental illness drugs!