"Heeding Public Outrage, Pfizer Drops Climate Denial And Tobacco Front Group Heartland Institute"
The pharmaceutical giant Pfizer (PFE) has confirmed that it will no longer support the Heartland Institute, a political advocacy group that questions the science of climate change and tobacco smoking. Forecast the Facts, which is leading the campaign calling on corporations to drop Heartland, was informed of the decision by Pfizer’s Corporate Secretary Matthew Lepore. Pfizer was a major donor to Heartland, giving $45,000 in 2012 alone.
Pfizer’s decision means that there are no longer any pharmaceutical companies known to support the Heartland Institute.
Pfizer’s last contribution to Heartland was in 2012. Pfizer’s decision follows a groundswell of public outrage over the corporate support for the Heartland Institute’s toxic behavior, including a billboard campaign that equated believers in climate change with serial killers such as the Unabomber. Over 150,000 people have signed petitions to corporate leaders to drop Heartland. Pfizer is the 21st company to end its support for Joseph Bast’s organization, joining its competitors Amgen (AMGN), Eli Lilly (LLY), Bayer (BAYRY), and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), as well as major companies like General Motors (GM), State Farm, and PepsiCo (PEP).
Records from tobacco industry lawsuits show that Pfizer had joined tobacco companies in supporting the Heartland Institute since at least 1994. Cigarette makers Altria (MO) and R.J. Reynolds (RAI) continue to fund the group.
Since Pfizer’s previously undisclosed funding of the Heartland Institute became public at the beginning of the year, Forecast the Facts has led increased public pressure on the pharmaceutical maker. At first, Pfizer defended its support for Heartland by claiming the company gets “significant benefits” from its association with the toxic front group.
In May, Forecast the Facts members flooded Pfizer’s phones and social media sites with calls for the company to pull their support. During Heartland’s climate change denial conference in Chicago, Forecast the Facts, SumOfUs.org and 350.org organized their members to “crowd-fund” bicycle-driven billboards featuring Pfizer that parodied the Heartland Institute’s Unabomber ads. Forecast the Facts also mobilized a rally and protest outside the conference against Pfizer’s support for the climate denial group.
In July, more than 2,000 health professionals demanded that Pfizer immediately end its support for the Heartland Institute. Citing Heartland’s longstanding relationship with major tobacco companies, as well as its fierce denial of climate science, the doctors, nurses, and other members of the public health community co-signed a letter to Pfizer CEO Ian Read, whose company has defended its financial support of the anti-science organization. The concerned members of the medical community were mobilized by Forecast the Facts and SumOfUs.org.
In August, Forecast the Facts distributed flyers at Pfizer’s New York City headquarters and at biomedical conferences in Boston, San Francisco, and Kansas City notifying Pfizer employees and customers of its support for the anti-science Heartland Institute. That month, additional pressure was placed on Pfizer by the Union of Concerned Scientists and a coalition of shareholder activists to abandon the front group.
For more information on the status of the Heartland’s corporate funding, go to http://www.dropdeniers.org.
Brad Johnson is the campaign manager of Forecast the Facts.