Medical Organizations and Prescription Drugs
Is there a link between the prescription drug industry and non-profit medical groups that promote an increasing use of opioids? How close are the pain docs and the drug industry?
A U.S. Senate panel has begun to explore this connection. As reported by David Morgan and Reuters, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus, a Democrat and the committee’s leading Republican member, Chuck Grassly has sent letters to Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals unit, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Purdue Pharma and seven medical groups seeking documents about their financial connections. Purdue makes Oxycontin and Endo makes Percocet.
The Senate Committee is interested in determining if medical groups have promoted misleading information about the risks and benefits of opioid use while receiving financial support from manufacturers. This comes against a background of over 14,000 deaths due to opioids in 2008 and increasingly ambitions actions by local, state and federal law enforcement in curtailing the illegal use of prescription drugs.
A not-for-profit medical group, the American Pain Foundation, recently closed its doors, citing ongoing financial obligations. This followed a 2010 article by nonprofit news website ProPublica and The Washington Post, that found the American Pain Foundation received 90 percent of its funding from the drug and medical device industry in 2010.
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