July 12, 2012

Over 2,000 Health Professionals Call on Pfizer to Stop Funding the Heartland Institute

More than 2,000 health professionals are demanding that Pfizer (PFE) immediately end its support for the Heartland Institute, a Chicago-based political advocacy group. 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 are being mobilized by the organizations Forecast the Facts and SumOfUs.org.

The health professionals are calling Pfizer to stop supporting Heartland, or risk losing their business. “I know very well what the health consequences of global warming will be. It is outrageous that Pfizer would support the Heartland Institute,” writes Dr. Brian Moench, president of Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment. “I will deliberately refuse to talk to any Pfizer drug rep in my hospital, and encourage my colleagues to do the same.”

The letter to CEO Ian Read points out a “direct contrast” between “Pfizer’s professed commitment to science and public health” and support for Heartland. “Twenty companies, including Pfizer competitors Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline, have recognized that support for the Heartland Institute is inconsistent with their values and a danger to their brand,” says Brad Johnson, campaign manager for Forecast the Facts. “It’s high time that Pfizer came to the same conclusion.” In a call with Forecast the Facts on July 11, Pfizer Corporate Secretary Matt Lepore defended his company’s relationship with Heartland, saying that they receive “significant benefits” from their support of Heartland. He also confirmed that Pfizer has contributed $45,000 to the Heartland Institute in 2012 for its health-care advocacy.

Forecast the Facts is now ramping up its efforts to raise awareness about Pfizer’s support of Heartland. Beginning this week, Forecast the Facts will be handing out flyers at Pfizer’s New York City headquarters alerting Pfizer employees of their company’s unhealthy ties. Previously, crowd-funded bicycle-powered billboards called out Pfizer at the Heartland Institute’s climate-denial conference in Chicago on May 21. And at the 2012 BIO Conference in Boston, sponsored by Pfizer, attendees were greeted with Forecast the Facts flyers explaining the campaign.

Heartland President Joe Bast has called global warming a “scam,” and labeled studies linking smoking to cancer as “junk science.” Tobacco companies Altria and Reynolds American International remain large contributors to the Heartland Institute. The health professionals are the latest in a growing coalition of 160,000 activists, led by Forecast the Facts, who are calling on all corporate supporters to withdraw from Heartland. Starting with General Motors, twenty corporations have pulled their support, costing Heartland over $1,000,000 in expected contributions.

The medical community’s letter to Pfizer CEO Ian Read is available here.

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