A U.S. Senate investigation into financial ties between producers of prescription painkillers and organizations that champion such drugs was announced Tuesday, just after the American Pain Foundation, the nation’s largest organization for pain patients, said it would shut down. The group said in a statement on its website that its closure was due to “irreparable economic circumstances.”
APF – which received 90 percent of its $5 million in funding in 2010 from the drug and medical-device industry – came under fire in December over its ties to pharmaceutical companies.
The Senate investigation was launched amid concerns that doctors and consumers aren’t getting accurate information about the risks of powerful opiate painkillers. According to the New York Times, pharmaceutical companies that received notice of the probe include OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma; Endo Pharmaceuticals, which makes Percocet; and Johnson & Johnson, which markets Duragesic.
APF – which was also sent a letter – claims on its website that “misguided state and federal policies are impeding access to appropriate and reasonable medical care for people struggling with pain, and deterring even the most compassionate medical providers from treating anyone with pain conditions.”
The University of Wisconsin’s Pain and Policy Group also received a letter. That group attracted criticism last year for allegedly receiving millions of dollars from pharmaceutical companies, including Purdue, for pushing for the de-regulation of narcotic pain medicine.