NAMI Faces Scrutiny Over Big Pharma Backers
The majority of donations to the country’s top mental health lobbying and advocacy group come from drug makers, a Congressional investigation has uncovered.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has long refused to disclose the amount it received from particular donors, but at the request of Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the group provided documents about its fund raising.
Between 2006 and 2008 pharmaceutical companies donated almost $23 million to NAMI, constituting about 75 percent of the group’s fund raising.
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NAMI leaders are admitting that the drug makers’ contributions are too high and say the percentage will be “significantly” lower next year. But at the same time they underscore that despite the high level of donations, the advocacy group is not motivated by the wishes of drug companies.
Nonetheless, documents show that NAMI’s relationship with pharmaceuticals may be deeper than donations. AstraZeneca and other drug companies actually coached the advocacy group on how to lobby for issues that would lead to greater profits for the industry.
The group is making changes to promote transparency. As a result of Grassley’s inquiry, NAMI began publicly posting the names of companies that give over $5,000, reports The New York Times. To read more click here.
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: A previous version of this story indicated that NAMI did not previously disclose who it received donations from. In actuality, the organization disclosed corporate and foundation donors but did not publicly state the amount given.