5 opioid makers paid $8M+ to pain groups since 2012: 7 things to know

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Five of the largest opioid manufacturers in the United States donated nearly $9 million over five years to patient advocacy groups and professional societies that have offered public support for opioids, according to a Senate report released Monday.

The report is the second produced by the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee's investigation spearheaded by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., the top-ranking democrat on the committee. The committee's first report released last September highlighted how drugmakers misled insurance companies and offered financial incentives to physicians to promote the use of opioids.

Here are seven things to know.

1. Between January 2012 and March 2017, Purdue Pharma, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Mylan, Depomed and Insys Therapeutics delivered $8,856,339 to 14 third-party advocacy groups focused on chronic pain treatment and other areas with opioid policy implications, such as cancer pain relief and palliative care.

2. Physicians with the 14 advocacy organizations have accepted more than $1.6 million from the five drugmakers since 2013. These same physicians received a total of more than $10 million from all opioid manufacturers in the industry over the same time period.

3. The five advocacy groups that received the most money from opioid makers over the five-year period were U.S. Pain Foundation ($2,922,800), Academy of Integrative Pain Management ($1,265,566), American Academy of Pain Medicine ($1,199,409), American Pain Society ($962,724) and The National Pain Foundation ($562,500).

4. A majority of the 14 advocacy groups criticized the CDC's guidelines for chronic pain treatment released in 2016 that listed nonopioid therapy as the preferred treatment for chronic pain, suggesting opioids should only be used when benefits outweigh the risks associated with the medications.

"The fact that these … manufacturers provided millions of dollars to the groups described [in this report] suggests, at the very least, a direct link between corporate donations and the advancement of opioids-friendly messaging," wrote the report's authors. "By aligning medical culture with industry goals in this way, many of the groups described in this report may have played a significant role in creating the necessary conditions for the U.S. opioids epidemic."

5. Donations from Purdue Pharma totaling more than $4M accounted for nearly half of all donations listed in the report. On Monday, the drugmaker cut its sales force by more than half and ended its practice of directly marketing opioids to Prescribers.

6. In an emailed statement, Ms. McCaskill said the financial relationships between the drugmakers and the advocacy groups were "insidious, lacked transparency, and are one of many factors that have resulted in arguably the most deadly drug epidemic in American history."

7. Four of the drug companies acknowledged the donations in statements published by CNN Purdue Pharma said its donations were part of efforts to support organizations "that are interested in helping patients receive appropriate care." Mylan said it made limited donations to the American Pain Society as a participant in the organization's annual conferences. Depomed said it acted responsibly and only donated to nine of the 14 advocacy groups listed in the report. Insys described its donations as patient-focused "charitable contributions." Janssen told CNN it cooperated with the investigation, but could not comment on the findings because it hadn't received a copy of the final report.

More articles on opioids: 
7 recent opioid epidemic lawsuits 
Pennsylvania governor declares opioid epidemic statewide public health emergency 
Narcan developers donate 5k doses to Illinois' opioid overdose task force

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