Days after the American Pain Society announced that it was dissolving and filing for bankruptcy due to mounting litigation related to the nation’s opioid epidemic, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee sent letters to it as well as nine other pain societies and advocacy groups demanding they divulge their financial relationships with opioid makers and other medical companies that manufacture pain killers.
The request was made in a letter sent by Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley and Minority Leader Sen. Ron Wyden.
“As Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, we have a responsibility to ensure transparency and accountability in matters that directly affect Federal health care programs and tax-exempt organizations,” they wrote. “This responsibility includes examining the extent to which pharmaceutical manufacturers fund tax-exempt organizations and how these payments may influence pain treatment practices and policies.”
Organizations that received letters include the American Pain Society, as well as the American Chronic Pain Association, the American Society for Pain Management Nursing, the American Society of Pain Educators, the Center for Practical Bioethics, the Federation of State Medical Boards, the Joint Commission, the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, the Alliance for Patient Access, and the International Association for the Study of Pain.
The request comes just days after the American Pain Society announced it was folding. The organization said it had been named as a defendant in several lawsuits that also named opioid manufacturers. The lawsuits allege opioid makers, distributors and pharmacies misled doctors about their highly addictive painkillers which has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths and economic damages to communities across the country.
In May, the American Pain Society was singled out in a report, “Corrupting Influence: Purdue & the WHO,” by U.S. Reps Katherine Clark and Hal Rogers. The report stated that “The American Pain Society and its global arm, the International Association for the Study of Pain, promote opioid use, especially for chronic, non-cancer pain.” The report also credited the society’s former president and board chairman, James Campbell, for the phrase “pain should be treated as ‘the fifth vital sign,” which, the report alleged, “became a key component of opioid manufacturer-funded promotional materials encouraging higher prescription rates.”