Sanofi's UK HQ
Sanofi's UK HQ

A £50,000 grant scheme for patient groups run by a pharmaceutical company has closed.

A spokeswoman for the drugs company Sanofi confirmed that the Patient Group Bursary Scheme, which supported patient empowerment and education initiatives, had ended.

She said the company would support patient groups in other ways rather than through a bursary scheme.

Asked how the company would continue to support the groups, the Sanofi spokeswoman said: "We will continue to work to support the patient advocacy community in the future, but not in the format of the patient group bursary scheme."

The scheme made three awards in 2014: £25,000 to the Older People's Advocacy Alliance, which develops advocacy services for older people; £15,000 to TB Alert, which tackles tuberculosis in the UK and developing countries; and £10,000 to Findacure, which promotes the development of treatments for extreme and rare genetic diseases.

The £10,000 award was aimed at groups with incomes of £300,000 or less.

The bursary was set up in 2011. Previous award winners include the Anaphylaxis Campaign, the Brittle Bone Society, Crohn’s and Colitis UK, the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Breast Cancer Campaign and the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

A statement from the company said: "Sanofi has a long-standing history of working with patient groups across the UK. After careful consideration, we have decided to not continue the Sanofi Patient Group Bursary Scheme in 2015. This decision allows us to better allocate and focus our resources to have the most impact with the patient organisations we support. We are currently undertaking a review of all of our work with patient organisations and our commitment remains unchanged. Sanofi will always work to support the advocacy community in the UK."

A spokeswoman for Findacure, a previous grant recipient, said: "Winning the Sanofi grant allowed us to implement a peer mentoring campaign for rare disease patient groups that is still ongoing and currently benefiting 16 groups around the UK. We are incredibly grateful to have had support from Sanofi, and it's just a shame that more people won't get to benefit from what we have found to be an incredibly useful scheme."

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