On Tuesday, the Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation into the relationship between drugmakers, advocacy groups and organizations that set guidelines on how physicians prescribe painkillers, the New York Times reports.
Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) in letters to drugmakers, academic experts and advocacy groups requested records documenting financial and other ties within the industry (Meier, New York Times, 5/8).
The letters were sent to:
- The Federation of State Medical Boards;
- The Joint Commission (Ornstein/Weber, Washington Post, 5/8);
- Drugmakers like Endo Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson and Purdue Pharma (New York Times, 5/8); and
- Advocacy groups like the American Academy of Pain and Medicine, the American Pain Foundation, the American Pain Society, the Center for Practical Bioethics and the Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group .
The senators wrote that growing evidence suggests that drugmakers might be contributing to the "epidemic of accidental deaths and addiction" to prescription painkillers "by promoting misleading information about the drugs' safety and effectiveness" (Washington Post, 5/8).
Baucus and Grassley said they are seeking to ensure that physicians and patients receive accurate information about the risks and benefits of the drugs that is not affected by financial interests (New York Times, 5/8).
APF Announces It Will Dissolve
The launch of the investigation came on the same day that APF announced that it will dissolve "due to irreparable economic circumstances," the Post reports. It is unclear whether the announcement was related to the receipt of a letter from the senators, according to the Post.
APF in December was the focus of a ProPublica investigation that found 90% of its funding came from drugmakers and medical device makers, and that its guidelines minimized the risks and exaggerated the benefits of opioids (Washington Post, 5/8).