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A top drug importation critic was funded by PhRMA

illustration of pharmacy pills
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The National Sheriff's Association has become a loud critic of prescription drug importation in recent years, but there's a catch: Its anti-importation campaign is funded by a nonprofit that's backed by PhRMA, Bloomberg reports.

Between the lines: The association has struggled financially in recent years, and turned to seeking grants from corporations and nonprofits. This year, the Partnership for Safe Medicines — a PhRMA-backed nonprofit — is the sheriffs' biggest grant-provider.

  • An internal document from April obtained by Bloomberg shows that the partnership gave $908,926 to the association in the previous six months, which was almost half of the group's total grant funding.
  • The money more than covered an anti-importation ad campaign over the summer. “NSA has received a grant from the Partnership for Safe Medicines for this NSA initiative that covers ALL the ad buys and that earns NSA $125,000 over about the next 3 months,” a leader of the sheriffs’ group wrote in an email to a member.

"The commercials are just one part of a two-year campaign that used secret payments, a widely criticized consultant’s report and even celebrity drug cops to concoct public-safety arguments against drug importation and then use them to foster the appearance of widespread concern among law-enforcement groups," Bloomberg's Ben Elgin writes.

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