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A new investigation found that the opioid industry really wants you to treat pain with medication.
The report, released by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., found key players in the nation’s opioid industry spent $65 million since 1997 funding nonprofits to bombard elected officials with messages in support of painkillers.
Why? Profits, of course.
Both senators are considering legislation to expand an existing federal system that tracks payments to doctors to include payments to nonprofit organizations, the Associated Press reports.
“We’ve found that the possibility of donor influence could and has undermined the efforts to develop and advocate good policy,” Grassley said in a statement obtained by AP. “When it comes to opioids, we need to make sure there is transparency and accountability to prevent what, in this case, led to serious public misunderstanding of the risks of these highly addictive drugs.”
Opioids such as OxyContin and Vicodin have been linked to 470,000 deaths in the U.S. since 2000, according to the AP. In 2016, AP and the Center for Public Integrity, an independent investigative news publication, found that opioid makers were backing groups, including one called “Pain Core Forum,” to advocate for access to the drugs.
“The potential dangers presented by opioids makes this Trojan horse-style of marketing particularly troubling,” Wyden said in a statement. “But make no mistake that such practices are widespread across the pharmaceutical industry, and consumers are often left in the dark.”
Do you think opioid drug makers should spend millions to promote their painkillers? Share your thoughts with Voices for Affordable Health.