NPS MedicineWise rejects ‘selling out’ to big pharma claim

The not-for-profit vehemently denies claims by leading medical publication that it has “sold its soul to big pharma”

CEO Dr Lynn Weekes has written a lengthy letter hitting back at claims by the Australian Doctor publication that NPS MedicineWise is accepting drug company money for providing analyses of patient data provided by GP practices.

Australian Doctor reported on Monday 29 August that the organisation’s commercial subsidiary, VentureWise, was selling drug companies access to GP data about prescribing habits, drug reactions, patient demographics, pathology results and de-identified medical histories.

It claimed Gilead Sciences had successfully applied for information to “assess the management of renal toxicity in primary care associated with [its drug] Stribild”.

lynn weekes 2
Dr Lynn Weekes

The publication also reported that VentureWise was providing an education program to GPs in a $214,000 deal with GSK, potentially risking the independence of NPS.

“Don’t believe everything you read,” Dr Weekes has responded in a letter published on the NPS MedicineWise website.

“Claims that we are selling data and ‘selling out’ to big pharma are misleading and simply do not reflect the real situation.

“All decisions we make about working with different customers carefully consider our independence, integrity and longstanding trust with health professionals and the Australia community. We don’t take our responsibilities lightly,” says Dr Weekes.

“NPS MedicineWise is an independent, not-for-profit, non-government organisation. The majority of our funding comes from contracts we hold with the Australian Government Department of Health, but we also receive funding from other government and non-government customers.

She says the organisation’s GP data program is “subject to rigorous and ethical data access and governance and is only used for the public good”.

“As you can imagine there is a lot of interest in this dataset to inform research, health policy and evidence-based care, as well as to support quality improvement. NPS MedicineWise has substantial data analytics and intelligence capability and adopts a user-pays model for the work we undertake on behalf of external parties. Outputs are reports and insights, not patient data. All data held by NPS MedicineWise are de-identified,” Dr Weekes writes.

She says two NPS projects to date have been funded by pharmaceutical companies:

  • Funded by GSK through an independent medical grant: An educational program to address quality use of medicines issues, including stepwise medication management, confusion about different inhaler devices and correct use, and avoiding double dosing from using multiple devices containing the same medicine class.
  • Funded by Gilead Sciences: A MedicineInsight (NPS’ data program) research project to assess the management of renal toxicity in primary care associated with Stribild to support the medicine’s risk management plan, with a specialised focus on HIV management.


Read Australian Doctor’s article here.

Read Lyn Weekes’ letter in full here.

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