Ian Hickie

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Professor Ian Hickie is the Executive Director of the Brain & Mind Research Institute (BMRI) at the University of Sydney. He is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney, a board member of the Mental Health Council of Australia [1] and on the Foundation Executive Committee of headspace which is Australia's National Youth Mental Health Foundation.

Defending pharma funding of patient groups

In response to criticism of the drug industry funding patient groups, Hickie wrote an opinion column defending the practice. "The position of leftist critics stems largely from the simplistic assertion that if pharmaceutical companies support community-based advocacy groups, then such groups are mere puppets of the industry and their primary role is the promotion of illness states or increased use of medication therapies," he wrote. [2]

Hickie drew a distinction between existing patient groups and those that were prupose created by drug companies. Of the former he wrote that "the two central principles of such organisations are, first, to engage in activities that result in improved access to affordable and evidence-based healthcare for those affected by illness and, second, to promote improved experiences of care for patients, their families and carers. The financing of such organisations typically relies heavily on government support." [3]

Referring to reports, partly funded by the drug industry, that have challenged government policy direction of mental health, Hickie wrote "it is very hard to see how support from the pharmaceutical industry has resulted in a distortion of the healthcare debate. In fact, it could be argued that without such support the previous over-reliance on medical care would have been perpetuated by the existing medical and government agencies. While the critics will continue to put their respective views, perhaps it is clear from this example that the larger and well-established advocacy groups can both put pharmaceutical monies to achieving genuine public good." [4]

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