Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), an influential and politically connected advocacy group that seeks to reduce opioid prescribing, is no longer directly affiliated with Phoenix House, which runs a nationwide chain of addiction treatment centers.
The Steve Rummler Hope Foundation is now the “fiscal sponsor” of PROP, which will allow PROP to collect tax deductible donations under the foundation’s 501 (c) (3) non-profit status.
IRS regulations allow non-profits to form partnerships with like-minded organizations, allowing other groups to essentially piggyback off their non-profit status and collect donations.
Like PROP, the foundation’s main goal is to reduce opioid prescribing.
It is named after Steve Rummler, a Minnesota pain patient who became addicted to opioid medication while being treated for a back injury. After several attempts at addiction treatment, Rummler relapsed and died of a heroin overdose at the age of 43.
“He struggled with the pain for a long time,” said Judy Rummler, Steve’s mother and chief financial officer of the foundation. “He had what I think later was figured out to be some damage to the nervous system around his spinal cord because he had what he described as shooting electric shock-like sensations that would shoot up his back into his head and down his legs into his feet.”
Steve sought help from many doctors, but never received a treatable diagnosis. He started taking OxyContin for pain relief. “Once he was prescribed the opioids in 2005, then he didn’t care about getting answers anymore,” his mother said.
“I know there are a lot of people who are going to be hurt by cutting back on the prescribing, but I just think a lot of them are addicted as my son was. Yet he would have been the first one to scream and yell about having his pills cutoff.”
Opioid medication should not be prescribed for chronic pain, according to Rummler.
Another person who believes that opioids cause addiction. She would rather leave a person in agony than give them a medication to which only 3% of pain patients become addicted to.
Links with PROP
The Rummler Foundation already has a lengthy association with PROP.
Kolodny serves on the foundation’s medical advisory committee, as does Jane Ballantyne, MD, PROP’s president.
The two groups have also participated together in several advocacy campaigns. While PROP no longer considers itself “a program” of Phoenix House, Kolodny is still listed as the chief medical officer for the organization.
For several years, PROP lobbied the FDA, DEA and other federal agencies to reduce the prescribing of opioids with mixed success.
Recently it played a significant role in the development of the CDC’s opioid guidelines, which discourage primary care physicians from prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Kolodny, Ballantyne and three other PROP officers and board members served on panels advising the CDC.
In addition to his new affiliation with the Rummler Foundation, Kolodny is working with the Los Angeles-based Media Policy Center in developing a documentary on opioids and addiction. PROP is listed as one of the partners in the project, along with the Semel Institute of Neurobiology and the Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
PNN has learned that several prominent doctors in the field of pain management have been approached to participate in a “debate” with Kolodny for the program.
All have declined because they fear the documentary will be biased.