Pharma-Funded Charity Sues U.S. Government

Patient Services Inc. (PSI), a charity that helps patients pay for expensive prescription drugs, is suing the federal government over what it alleges are unlawful restrictions on its ability to communicate with pharmaceutical company donors.

Patient-assistance charities have become a mainstay of drug companies’ efforts to ensure patients can afford their products. It’s a circular kind of philanthropy: These charities help patients, but they also provide a lucrative philanthropic option for donors. A 2017 Citi Research report found that every $1 million the drug industry spends on charitable donations to support access to high-priced drugs has the potential to generate up to $21 million for the sponsor company.

In its lawsuit, PSI alleges that federal oversight violates its free-speech rights and poses a threat to its existence. “These restrictions… prohibit us from communicating truthful and non-misleading information,” said Neil Millhiser, general counsel of PSI. “That impedes our ability to help these patients out.”

The lawsuit asks the court to declare that truthful and non-misleading communication in 12 categories are not restricted, including discussion of the cost of a drug and insurance coverage.

Source: The Washington Post, January 8, 2018.