Public interest nonprofit organizations U.S. Right to Know and Public Citizen have petitioned the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to stop issuing false disclaimers that it “does not accept commercial support” and has “no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products.”1
The CDC consistently publishes the following disclaimer throughout its website:
CDC, our planners, content experts, and their spouses/partners wish to disclose they have no financial interests or other relationships with the manufacturers of commercial products, suppliers of commercial services, or commercial supporters.2 3 4 5
According to U.S. Right to Know and Public Citizen, “The CDC makes such disclaimers hundreds of times in its publication and on its website despite that the National Foundation for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has accepted for it nearly $80 million from drug companies and other commercial manufacturers during fiscal years 2014-2018.”1
The petition by these groups states: “These claims may be comforting to consumers and health professionals, but both are indisputably false.”1
“That the CDC accepts millions from corporations directly impacted by the agency’s public health programs is indefensible,” said Michael Carome, MD, who is director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. “So the CDC instead has adopted the strategy of repeatedly denying that it accepts such payments.”1
Gary Ruskin, co-director of U.S. Right to Know, urged the CDC to be “truthful with health professionals and all Americans, and to stop denying that it takes corporate money.”1
A 2015 article in the British medical journal The BMJ by Jeanne Lenzer highlighted that pharmaceutical firms and other kinds of companies fund CDC projects via the CDC Foundation.6
An article in The Vaccine Reaction noted that the CDC’s director at the time Thomas Frieden, MD said he was unconcerned about CDC financial ties to industry because it allowed the CDC to do more work at a faster pace. But this attitude has been a concern to watchdog groups because they believe it “undermines and delegitimizes the authority and reputation of a highly influential public health agency that should be free of conflicts of interest—real or perceived.”6
1 Press Release. Groups to CDC: Stop Falsely Claiming Not to Accept Corporate Money U.S. Right to Know Nov. 5, 2019.
2 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CE Instructions for WB4095: Immunization: You Call the Shots-Module One-General Best Practice Guidelines for Immunization-2019 CDC.gov
3 CDC. Crisis and Emergency Risk Communication (CERC) Online Training. CDC.gov Jan. 23, 2018.
4 CDC. Myths of Radiation: Communicating in Radiation Emergencies – Myth. CDC.gov Apr. 4, 2018.
5 CDC. Watch Me! Celebrating Milestones and Sharing Concerns. CDC.gov Sept. 2, 2019.
6 TVR Staff. CDC Foundation Ties to Industry Raise Conflict of Interest Concerns. The Vaccine Reaction June 28, 2015.