Medical charities gear up to combat bad press

The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) is creating guidelines for its members on industry partnerships, in an attempt to ­dispel fears of negative publicity from being associated with the corporate world.

The group has launched a discussion document that sets out initial guidelines on how to build effective collaborations with pharmaceutical, ­biotechnology and healthcare companies.

The document, ‘An Essential Partnership: Principles and Guidelines for Working with Industry’, calls for ‘greater openness and transparency’ to ensure public ­confidence in the partnerships. The group claims that such partnerships are an essential and inevitable aspect of the way medicines and treatments are developed, as well as allowing charities to push the patient agenda.

Simon Denegri, AMRC chief executive, said: ‘We hope that our guidelines will be a useful resource and will enable medical research charities and others to enter into collaborations with clearer expectations and awareness of the issues..’

The move comes amid furore over the discovery that Aimspro, a drug for multiple sclerosis sufferers, is being sold for up to £19,000 a year, despite no scientific proof that it works. The Charity Commission is now inves­tigating concerns over the ­behaviour of Proventus, a charity set up to lobby for the drug, after it emerged that several members of staff have small shareholdings in the drugs firm.

The proposed guidelines include advice for charities such as ensuring they retain control over the editorial content of any publications or materials bearing their name, and it urges charities to ensure they don’t endorse individual treatments.

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