9780774833844_cover Enlarge Cover
0 of 5
0 ratings
list price: $39.95
also available: eBook
category: Social Science
published: July 2017
publisher: UBC Press

Health Advocacy, Inc.

How Pharmaceutical Funding Changed the Breast Cancer Movement

by Sharon Batt

tagged: disease & health issues, cancer, fundraising & grants

Health activist, scholar, award-winning journalist, and cancer survivor Sharon Batt investigates the relationship between patient advocacy groups and the pharmaceutical industry, as well as the contentious role of pharma funding. Over the past several decades, a gradual reduction in state funding has pressured patient groups into forming private-sector partnerships. This analysis of Canada’s breast cancer movement from 1990 to 2010 argues that the resulting power imbalance undermined the groups’ ability to put patients’ interests ahead of those of the funders. A movement that once encouraged democratic participation in the development of health policy now eerily echoes the demands of the pharmaceutical industry.

About the Author

Sharon Batt

Contributor Notes

Sharon Batt is an independent scholar and adjunct professor in the Department of Bioethics at Dalhousie University and a research affiliate of the university’s Technoscience and Regulation Research Unit. A survivor of breast cancer, she co-founded Breast Cancer Action Québec in 1991.


Batt was a founding member of Canada’s first feminist magazine, the Edmonton-based Branching Out, and for six years was an editor for the consumer magazine Protect Yourself. Her documentary on cancer for CBC Radio’s Ideas won the Major Armstrong award; her book Patient No More: The Politics of Breast Cancer won the Laura Jamieson Award for feminist non-fiction.

Editorial Reviews

Batt has written a compassionate account of the debates among breast cancer activists in Canada and internationally about whether to accept money from the pharmaceutical industry … [She] challenges consumer advocacy groups to use their key asset - the trust of patients and the wider public – to advance the interests of the people they represent. She calls on governments to create a funding source so that patient and consumer advocacy groups can reclaim their independence. Now more than ever we need advocates who put drug safety, effectiveness and affordability above the interests of pharma.

— Alberta Views

Drug access campaigns have wide emotional appeal – who wouldn’t rally to the aid of someone with incurable cancer? They also reflect a genuine desire by patients with life-threatening diagnoses for a magic bullet. But fewer than 1-in-10 new drugs provide therapeutic advantage over existing drugs. The main beneficiaries of drug access campaigns are pharmaceutical companies, which almost always sponsor them, although this support is seldom obvious.

— <em>The Star</em>

Sharon Batt’s study of the relationship between breast cancer advocacy groups and the pharmaceutical industry in Canada is exhaustively researched, formidably detailed, analytically nuanced, riveting, and all too familiar … most importantly for many readers, although focused on Canada, Batt’s analysis of the changes in governmental priorities, drug costs, and patients’ expectations clearly has applicability all around the globe … Batt’s book is not an easy read, but it should be devoured by anyone, from any nation, who wants to put together a similarly formidable argument for transparent and genuine discussion about what we should – indeed, must – do differently to prevent and treat human suffering and disease.

— Indian Journal of Medical Ethics Online

Batt’s revelations about the relationship between patient advocacy groups and the pharmaceutical industry are vital and disturbing.

— Maisonneuve

[Batt’s] scholarly style might be a challenge for the casual reader, but those who persevere are rewarded with coverage of both sides of the debate ... Batt’s goal is to start a conversation and encourage discussion. She readily achieves this effect, and any cancer charity currently facing a funding dilemma would be well served by her book.

— Lancet Oncology
Contacting facebook
Please wait...