Senate report: 5 opioid manufacturers paid $9M to 14 patient advocacy groups — 8 insights

A Senate report released on Feb. 12 by U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D–Mo., claims that five drug manufacturers paid nearly $9 million to 14 outside groups working on chronic pain and other opioid-related issues between 2012 and 2017.

Here are eight things to know:

1. The five manufacturers named in the report include:

  • Purdue Pharma
  • Janssen Pharmaceuticals
  • Mylan
  • Depomed
  • Insys Therapeutics

2. These manufacturers paid physicians affiliated with the outside groups more than $1.6 million between 2013 and 2018.

3. Since January 2012, the five manufacturers have made more than $10 million in payments to these groups and affiliated individuals. The report suggests a link between corporate donations and the promotion of opioids-friendly messaging and alleges that these groups contributed to laying the foundations for the current opioid crisis.

4. The report notes that many of the groups "issued guidelines to physicians and other health practitioners that minimize the risk of opioid addiction or emphasize the long term use of opioids to treat chronic pain. Several groups have also lobbied to change laws directed at curbing opioid use, strongly criticized landmark CDC guidelines on opioid prescribing, and challenged legal efforts to hold physicians and industry executives responsible for overprescription and misbranding."

5. The report was released as opioid manufacturers face increasing lawsuits filed by state, county and city governments accusing the companies of downplaying addiction risks and improperly encouraging prescription. According to STAT, these governments seek compensation for the cost of addiction treatment as well as emergency and law enforcement costs attributed to rising crime rates caused by the crisis.

6. This is the first detailed breakdown of opioid manufacturer payments made to patient advocacy groups, although not all opioid makers were included in the report.

7. Purdue accounted for about half the payments. As of Feb. 10, Purdue will no longer market opioids to physicians and eliminated about half its sales staff.

8. STAT reports that the Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation into financial ties between drug makers, medical organizations that set usage guidelines and patient advocacy groups in 2012. A report has not yet been released.

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