Pfizer Refuses To Pull Funding From Anti-Science Front Group, Says $45,000 Grant To Heartland Is ‘Best For Shareholders’

After Pfizer Contribution, Heartland Continues Attacks On Climate Science And Tobacco Risks

By Brad Johnson, campaign manager of Forecast the Facts

Despite rising pressure from scientists and doctors, top Pfizer executives defended their affiliation with the Heartland Institute, brushing aside concerns that the group mocks the risks of tobacco smoking and vilifies climate scientists.

In a call with activists on Wednesday, Pfizer Corporate Secretary Matthew Lepore explained that Pfizer gave Heartland Institute $45,000 for 2012 and is considering future donations for 2013 and beyond. In recent months, Heartland’s president Joe Bast has compared believers in climate science to the Unabomber and claimed that the public health community has a campaign to “demonize smokers” based on “junk science.”

Lepore also stated that Pfizer isn’t concerned by the decisions of its competitors, such as Eli Lilly, GlaxoSmithKline, and Bayer, to disassociate themselves with Heartland:

“We do things at Pfizer that are best for shareholders of Pfizer. What’s going to make us make our decision is where we make a determination that the benefits we receive from Heartland are no longer justified.”

The call with Pfizer executives was organized by Forecast the Facts on behalf of over 2000 members in the medical community, who have signed an open letter to Pfizer CEO Ian Read demanding that his company stop supporting Heartland.

Lepore defended the “benefits we receive from Heartland” after being reminded by representatives from the National Wildlife Federation and Americans for Nonsmokers Rights that climate change and tobacco addiction are global health threats. The executives were told that Heartland’s claim that the risks of climate change and tobacco disease are junk science is ethically and morally unacceptable. Pfizer’s funding lends credibility to an organization that remains a front group for tobacco companies such as Altria and Reynolds American and polluters such as Murray Energy and Koch Industries.

The executives on the call minimized the severity of the climate and tobacco threats, which cost millions of lives around the world every year. Pfizer’s funding is “specifically designated for health care issues,” Lepore said, including vaccine regulation, academic detailing, and personalized medicine. “We can’t be very knee jerk on every issue that is brought to our attention,” said Marc Scarduffa, Vice President, Government Relations & Public Affairs. Pfizer produces Chantix, a nicotine replacement therapy for tobacco addiction, and Spiriva, which treats tobacco-related pulmonary disease.

The Union of Concerned Scientists is asking people to contact the two medical doctors on Pfizer’s board of directors with the message that “they can help protect Americans’ health by cutting off funding for climate denial groups.”

The climate advocacy organization Forecast the Facts announced Thursday they will be handing out flyers at Pfizer’s headquarters in New York City to Pfizer employees asking them to sever ties with the Heartland Institute.

22 Responses to Pfizer Refuses To Pull Funding From Anti-Science Front Group, Says $45,000 Grant To Heartland Is ‘Best For Shareholders’

  1. Paul Magnus says:

    Can we have a list of products they make? Its time to avoid buying these.

  2. Motley Climate says:

    Here’s a list of their pharmaceutical products.

    Among the more recognizable brands on that list: Advil, Chap-Stick, Centrum, Dimetapp, Viagara, Lipitor, ThermaCare, and Xanax.

  3. Robert says:

    Let’s be clear, the man is telling the truth. Their sole interest is the financial welfare of their shareholders, not “doing the right thing” for the health and well-being of Americans. Corporations are not concerned about overall ethics or well-being — they are concerned about profit. Period.

    Getting them to drop Hearland, then is straighforward: Make it less profitable for them to support these thugs and charlatans than to quit supporting them.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    It might be useful to know where Pfizer buys their specialty chemicals for pharmaceuticals. Could they be showing allegiance to a supplier? I’d hate to have Koch Industries, or others of their viewpoint, setting the price on raw ingredients.

  5. Billy Snapp says:

    You’re absolutely right. They’ve always been concerned about profit above all else, even at the expense of their in-house R&D. It was a terrible place to work. Lawyers and business majors were running R&D because Pfizer thought they would do better jobs than actual scientists who understood the drug development process. Pfizer has always rewarded ambition and perceived profit over talent and merit.

    At least we can be satisfied in the knowledge that the company is dying.

  6. Tom Harris says:

    This Forecast the Facts initiative demonstrates clearly why it is important to keep donors to groups that oppose the extreme left confidential. Heartland had no choice in this matter, of course, since their donor list was stolen.

    The actions by Forecast the Facts hurt us all since they polarize the debate on these issues still further by simply trying to close down their opponents by trying to cut off their donor base. I don’t see how this contributes to the much vaunted freedom of speech in America.

    I am interested to know if there are examples of those on the right launching campaigns to frighten away donors to groups like Think Progress or Forecast the Facts? Or this just a “Progressive” tactic?

  7. John Hollenberg says:

    Shame on Pfizer. Unfortunately, I don’t purchase any of their products, so I can’t boycott them.

  8. Chris Winter says:

    Robert is right. Consider these Pfizer products (from Wikipedia):

    * Accupril (quinapril) and Norvasc (amlodipine) — for hypertension

    * Advil (ibuprofen) — for general aches and pains

    * ChapStick — lip balm

    * Relpax (eletriptan) — for migrane headaches

    * Robitussin — cough syrup

    * Xanax and Xanax XR (alprazolam) — for anxiety and panic disorders

    * Zoloft (sertraline) — an antidepressant

    These all will be much in demand under the conditions forecast for climate change.

  9. SecularAnimist says:

    You are a deliberate deceiver and disinformer, Tom Harris.

    Your phony “skeptic” organization, the ICSC, has been paid tens of thousands of dollars by the Heartland Institute (according to Heartland’s own IRS filings) to lie to the public about the scientific reality of anthropogenic global warming — and then you lie about receiving that funding.

    No wonder you support Heartland’s campaign of vicious slander and defamation against climate scientists: that’s exactly what Heartland pays you to do.

    Take your despicable dishonesty and your idiotic babbling about “the far left” and shove it.

  10. BillD says:

    In my view, Pfizer’s support of Heatland shows poor judgement, a lack of respect for science and should be considered a signficant mark on their reputation and credibility.

  11. SecularAnimist says:

    Tom Harris says that Forecast the Facts is “polarizing the debate”.

    That’s pretty rich, given that Heartland’s contribution to the debate has been to equate climate scientists with the Unabomber and Osama Bin Laden.

    And speaking of Heartland’s “contributions”, the Heartland Institute’s IRS filings indicate that they have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to Mr. Harris’s organization.

  12. Dennis Tomlinson says:

    This has nothing to do with Heartland’s freedom of speech. It has everything to do with combating a disseminator of disinformation – a distorter of public perception on a topic as serious as any our species has ever been confronted with – starving the beast, shrinking it until it can be drowned in the bathtub.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Big Pharma, like all capitalists, only cares for profit, for money and for the power to make more money. Big Pharma is the most profitable section of multinational capitalism. It makes money out of sickness, and smoking is bloody good for business. As is impotence, anxiety, obesity, diabetes etc, all conditions that could be greatly ameliorated by preventative interventions, which is why preventative medicine is so neglected in all capitalist societies. Bad for business, the real purpose of human existence.

  14. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The ‘extreme Left’ are those concerned to see humanity survive anthropogenic climate change, and to see tobacco addicts aided to end their addiction before it kills them, after much suffering. The Right only cares for money, and if it must be made out of the suffering of others, well, who on the Right ever gave a care for other human beings, the enemy. In Australia the current truly vicious anti-Green Party campaign, so spontaneous (not) so plainly co-ordinated across the Rightwing MSM and the Rightwing mainstream political parties, with that ‘spooky synchronicity’ of groupthink we know so well from the MSM, is highlighting the alleged link between the Greens and Communism. The crude agit-prop and the work of talentless ‘cartoonists’ feature moronic lies about Marx (who was, however, onto ecological destruction by capitalism very early)and drawings of hammers and sickles sprouting green shoots. The atmosphere of McCarthyist hatemongering has been turned on like a tap, to order. It is good to know, however, that the Right freely admits to being the party of omnicidal ecological destruction and profit from COPD and lung cancer, and, equally, admits that it is the Left who stand for life and the avoidance of unnecessary suffering. An inadvertent excursion into truth-telling, but significant.

  15. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I would not be surprised if other Big Pharma corporations were still financing Heartland, but by more surreptitious routes.

  16. Millicent says:

    Having read the Wikipedia article on Pfizer, it seems to me that Pfizer runs its business using the same standard of ethics (or absence of ethics) as Heartland.

    I would not want to use, nor would I trust, the products of a business run in that fashion.

  17. Ozonator says:

    Pfizer wants to help destroy the aircraft industry or sedate passengers?

    Evil Inhofe failed to include the right to a non-melted runway from his investor’s AGW. “After pointing out an airplane got stuck in heat softened asphalt, Al Gore misses the fact that many of the surface temps used in climate come from airports” (racketeering found on 7/13/12) (Marc ‘Mengele’ Morano whistle-sucker perfuming the stink at Evil “Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), took a major step forward … “This is a big victory … I have helped an untold number of pilots facing the pressure of dealing with the Federal Aviation Administration … system”” (“Inhofe Applauds Passage of Pilot’s Bill of Rights”; Posted by: Scott Montgomery;, 7/1/12).

  18. LeoK says:

    No Tom Harris, the blatant lies and nonsense that come out of groups like HI hurt us all. You’re probably a paid shill of Pfizer or a similarly unethical corporation – if you don’t mind the redundancy of those last two words. You are another symptom of the problem. I hope you smoke and live near the ocean…

  19. James W. Crissman says:

    As a member of the biomedical research community, I’ve always been impressed by the quality of the scientists Pfizer employs. Until now. There is nothing in the interest of anybody’s shareholders that the heartland institute can do. They are quacks, pure and simple. And Pfizer’s shareholders, believing they’ve invested in a great science-based pharmaceutical company, will see no benefit from associating with quacks. I see their share price dropping when this becomes well known.