OAC was founded to give a voice to people with the disease of obesity. Since our founding, we have prioritized ensuring people with obesity have access to science-based obesity care, as well as the ability to live their lives free of weight bias and discrimination. Throughout our existence, we have received inquiries on how OAC works with industry partners. Below, please find our responses to the most frequently asked questions:
Does OAC accept industry support?
Yes, in some cases. OAC evaluates every partner we choose to accept support from to make sure that if they are providing services/treatments/etc. to people with obesity, that such services are science-based. OAC will not partner with any company that offers non-science-based treatment for obesity or any other obesity-related health issues.
Does industry get to influence OAC projects in return for support?
No. OAC retains full creative control over all of our content. Supporters have no influence on any of our projects. Industry support also doesn’t constitute an endorsement of any OAC project, program, event, and more.
Are industry members involved in the leadership of OAC?
OAC’s Board members include people living with obesity and healthcare providers who care for them. Industry has no roles on the OAC Board, and we have conflict of interest policies for each member of the board.
What does your relationship look like with industry?
OAC works with individual companies to find areas of mutual interest. If a company sponsors or supports OAC, OAC discloses their support at the activity, on the website or in other ways. Companies sponsor or give a grant to specific educational, awareness or support projects. OAC also spends a lot of time challenging our industry partners to do better in supporting the patient community. Examples include more comprehensive clinical trials, outcomes studies, making product/services more affordable and providing patient assistance programs.
Why work with industry at all?
One reality is that industry providers are going to develop products and services for people with obesity and help elevate public awareness of the disease of obesity and people affected by it. OAC has found our advocacy is more effective when we have relationships with various members of industry. We choose to work together when it makes sense but also choose not to when it does not. OAC is proud of our history of getting industry to invest in education, awareness and support for people with obesity.
How does OAC engage with industry when it comes to advocacy?
If our industry partners share our views and support our policies, OAC will work with them on various advocacy issues. OAC always maintains our independence in determining whether or not to engage on a specific policy issue. Specific areas that OAC partners with industry include payment for obesity care by Medicare, Medicaid, State Employee Health Plans, Essential Health Benefit Plans and other insurance. OAC also educates many of our industry partners around weight bias, and we see their policy/advocacy teams supporting efforts to combat bias at state and local levels. Our partners also prioritize educating their internal workforce on the topic of weight bias. At the same time, OAC constantly challenges industry around their prioritization of access to care issues. Many industry members’ current focus on Medicaid is attributable to OAC, as OAC strongly believes everyone, no matter their financial status, should have access to care if they wish it. In addition, OAC continues to challenge our industry partners around the high costs of new treatments as well, as the lack of patient assistance programs for those of low socioeconomic status.
Why does OAC advocate for coverage of pharmaceuticals?
OAC has longed-championed access to medications (as we have for science-based behavioral, device and surgical treatments) as we recognize the importance of multiple tools for the millions who live with obesity. Even before the current generation of obesity medicines were developed, OAC was advocating for the development and coverage of such medications. In fact, the language in the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act that expands access to pharmaceuticals was written at OAC’s urging before any of the current pharmaceutical companies producing anti-obesity medications had entered the obesity market.
Why does industry support OAC when at times OAC is critical of their efforts?
OAC’s track record after nearly 20 years of representing the needs and interests of people with obesity stands out to our industry partners. The OAC is respected for our strong but accurate representation of the needs of people with obesity. They also recognize it is OAC’s obligation to challenge them to make the world a better place for people living obesity and respect the fact that we do so. OAC is confident that our efforts with industry improves their activities.