Conflicts of Interest With Federal Pain Panel

Senator Raises Red Flags About Conflicts of Interest With Federal Pain Panel April 2016

Accusations of conflicts of interest are everywhere in the opioid debate. However, the anti-opioid side does not believe they are tainted – only the other side.

The ties to PROP and Phoenix House motivate members to lobby aggressively against opioids so that the recovery services they sell will be flooded with court-mandated customers.

Yet, here is a senator insisting that anti-prohibitionists are being funded by pharmaceutical companies.  

Should members of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee (IPRCC) with financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry be allowed to continue to serve? Perhaps not, according to U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who is alarmed about potential conflicts of interest on the panel.

As the highest-ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Wyden drafted a letter dated Feb. 5 to Health & Human Services (HHS)Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, outlining his concerns.

Naturally, a senator on the Finance Committee is more concerned about money than medicine.

Concerns Over Industry Ties

“Many members of the committee appear to have monetary connections to several pharmaceutical companies,” said Taylor Harvey, a spokesman for Sen. Wyden. “The senator is asking Secretary Burwell to provide information regarding the process by which the members are selected, and if there is a conflict of interest or not. Did these individuals properly disclose their ties to the industry?”

The letter stated in part that “these financial and professional relationships raise serious concerns about the objectivity of the panel’s members that deserve additional review.”

The letter also mentions several IPRCC members with potential conflicts of interest, including Myra Christopher and Richard Payne, MD, both of whom are employed by the Center for Practical Bioethics, which receives funding from a variety of drug manufacturers. Ms. Christopher holds a center chair, which began as a $1.5 million donation from Purdue Pharma, according to the letter.

“The facts speak for themselves. There are several members of the panel who have significant financial ties to industry,” said Jane Ballantyne, MD, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) and professor of anesthesiology and pain medicine at the University of Washington, in Seattle. “I think that probably influences the way they think about the issue.”

Dr. Ballantyne was a member of the panel that advised the CDC on drafting guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. She concedes that her affiliation with PROP can be considered a conflict of interest because she has a bias.

“We are a group of physicians who believe that we are harming people by overusing opioids,” she said. “But PROP is not funded at all.”

Dr. Ballantyne is intensely involved with PROP but is blind to her own prejudice. Such an attitude makes a person dangerous when they are in a position of power.

Dr. Webster pointed out that as a payor, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is concerned about saving costs on drugs and services. “Job security for a CMS staffer may be determined by panels like this one,” he said. “The FDA also receives payments from pharmaceutical companies and must oversee the industry’s drug developments.”

Dr. Webster said there appears to be a concerted effort to eliminate anyone on the panel who may advocate for people in pain, “because advocates for people in pain realize that opioids are necessary for some people,” he said.

Nonprofits that receive money for advocacy are being treated as if they are lobbyists for opioid manufacturers, which is absurd. To solve the problem of unrelieved pain, we need the voices of people in pain,” said Dr. Webster.

They cannot be ignored, or we will shun a large swath of society in desperate need of help. That would be cruel. Would we deny people with cancer a voice in cancer research , or caregivers of people with Alzheimer’s an opportunity to share their struggles and hopes for a cure? I hope not.”


10 thoughts on “Conflicts of Interest With Federal Pain Panel

  1. Doc Anonymous

    So Jayne Ballantyne says that PROP is not funded. Well PROP is an outreach of Phoenix House and Phoenix House IS FUNDED. It is another example of the half truths and fabrications that PROP uses. I would still like to see someone with the resources to gather the financial information about Phoenix House and its federal funding and insurance company funding to shed some light on PROP. It is impossible to be involved in all the areas that PROP shows up in unless there is a well funded and well organized plan of approach.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      PROP has clearly and cleverly maneuvered itself into the dominant role in the conversation about opioids.

      They must have been planning this for a long time to be so well prepared (propaganda), well placed (on decision-making panels), and well financed (from a wealthy donor who lost a child to addiction, I hear).

      If Kolodny’s mother suffered horrible pain, he’s so narrow minded, he’d probably deny her pain meds too. There can be no productive conversations with a person who is a fanatic that doesn’t believe in compromise.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kathy Cooper

    This Article is Orwellian. They are noticing a “Conflict of Interest.” There was no Problem with all of the funding, or the Industry people on that Panel. They left out any Pain Patients or Practicing Pain Physicians, and even Relevant Data. The whole decision was based on Old Data, misleading Statistic and the opinions of people who had no relationship to Pain management. They did select for people that agreed with their Agenda. They did not even use data collected after the last “crackdown.”

    In 2014 they suddenly stopped dispensing Legally Prescribed Pain Medication in many locations for weeks. Until, the Pharmacies,and the Insurance Companies figured out the Legality of the latest Measure. In Some States Doctors stopped prescribing due to the New “Rules”, those that did were required to Follow Guidelines, and take Continuing Education. Many of them opted out. They refused to write Opiate prescriptions for any reason, and for any Patient even ones they had known for Years with no problems. Apparently they were not collecting that information. This might have told us whether those measures worked or not.
    The Guidelines from 2014 left many people with out any Pain Management, and the few Pain Physicians left had to turn away new Patients. The Data on this would have helped to show what works. Different States implemented different strategies, so it might have led to information that intelligently formed decisions and Policy.

    This latest “crackdown” used the Data from years Prior to the Other Crackdowns. They used Hysteria amplified by the Media. The “Drug War” has not worked and the strategies they have been using are not helping. Now there are billboards, headlines, terrifying the General Public, telling us that Prescription drugs lead to Opiate Addiction. People, and even drug addicts themselves blaming prescription drugs. Maybe that is an easy narrative for a Drug Addict, they tend to say what people want to hear, or it could be the Narrative that get repeated. The Kids who they claim they want to “Save” the ones who get into Grandpas Medicine Chest and take whatever they find. They know it isn’t the truth. In repeating the Prescription Drug Narrative they are endangering Kids. They know from experience they won’t turn into an addict because they snuck some pills, they have friends who went onto college or are still walking around. These peope aren’t addicted. The real danger they left out was the fact that people that take them for kicks don’t know that a small dose can kill some people. They don’t know that if Grandpa takes 80 Mgs that same does could kill them.
    The Orwellin thing is that so many people believe this with out Questioning. They might have a relative who has a painful condition, but now they are judging them. They are afraid to give it to people in Nursing Homes, people dying of painful and incurable things. This Agenda has people more able to ignore the Suffering of others, since pain is not to be trusted. The Most Orwellian thing is that the General Public Believes that Big Pharma is behind the Pushing of Drugs, which they are of Course. The Marketing of Oxycontin when it should not have been did not mean it wasn’t necessary, just that the are greedy and some Doctors have no moral Center. Some were easily led by Drug Company propaganda, they still are though more careful about Opiates. The real Industry Boom will be in the Drugs they will try to replace opiates with. None have proven effective in any way. Opiate shave been around since the dawn of Mankind, used for Centuries, and they still have not come up with a replacement, or anything near a replacement. The real profit will be in the “New” drugs, much more expensive than generic Opiates, with more side effects. One of the drug classes they are trying to push are the Anti Psychotics, these effectively lobotomize Patients, ruining any ability they had to function in a Normal way. There has not been any long term independent Studies either, they only know that no one would abuse them they are that unpleasant. maybe that is what hey are going for a Lobotomized Populace, they have been very Popular in the Low Income Clinics.

    Sorry I should edit this. I am in pain from being at the computer.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      I learned that there’s just as little evidence for opioids in cancer pain, so the dichotomy between cancer pain and non-cancer pain is completely imaginary.

      There’s no evidence for the long-term effectiveness of opioids under any circumstances, yet they’ve been used successfully in medicine for thousands of years.

      If they come out with new drugs, we’ll end up as Guinea pigs because there won’t be any research into long-term effects of these unusual new drugs with complicated and unknown side effects. But that’s where the money will be made.

      Unrestrained profit seeking (pure capitalism) is hazardous in such circumstances, but since the people with the ones are making the rules, we patients are at their mercy when our health fails.

      I’m sure that pharma is utterly opposed to assisted suicide as well, because this is one of the few ways left to escape their “approved treatment” torture trap.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. kandiapple

    The evidence for the efficacy of using opioids for successful pain management outcome, cancer or non, is right in front of us. Stories from patients, case studies organized and republished using fully disclosed patient history statements from physicians who have seen it happen time and time again and have records to show it… If someone in a position of power, or with a well-publiced name, such as an author, helped to organize these things in a certain manner, we could show all the evidence we could ever need. It may not be a scientific study in literal terms, but it sure would be scientific! I’m on board!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. kandiapple

    Dr. Webster: I am kandiapple, who wrote the comment above. I am also Krissy Anderson, the researcher/writer. What do you think? With what you’ve done with your book and now documentary, couldn’t we develop a professional way to present on paper all this evidence we have by standardizing a case study form and let writers, patients and doctors fill them out? Would it be too hard to get doctors to pitch in? (I am sorry we missed each other in Tampa. A miscommunication, and you were on your way to the airport while I was waiting for the message as to what time we’d be meeting. That was too bad, but we’ll move on.) Take care,

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      In this blog, I only post excerpts from articles I find elsewhere. To see the original post, click the link at the top of an article.

      You can cut & paste your comments on Dr. Webster’s original post so that he can see them there.

      Sorry about the confusion.


    1. Zyp Czyk Post author

      Nice to meet the author here – this was a great article – thanks!

      I’m past wondering – I know it’s just all about the money, power, and Kolodny’s megalomania.

      He really thinks he can save humanity from itself – he imagines a world without drugs, as if that were possible, or even desirable!

      Liked by 1 person


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