Senate may regulate drugmaker donations after report finds opioid industry paid nonprofits $65M in past 2 decades

Drugmakers who produce opioids have paid $65 million since 1997 to nonprofits that advocate for treating pain with the highly addictive medications, according to a bipartisan congressional investigation released Dec. 16.

The investigation was led by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee. They found that the donations remained steady in recent years, even as a spotlight was shone on the opioid overdose crisis emerging in many communities across the country.

The senators are considering drawing up legislation to change the federal government's process of tracking payments from drugmakers to physicians so it will include donations made to nonprofit organizations.

"We've found that the possibility of donor influence could and has undermined the efforts to develop and advocate good policy," Mr. Grassley said in a statement. "When it comes to opioids, we need to make sure there is transparency and accountability to prevent what, in this case, led to serious public misunderstanding of the risks of these highly addictive drugs.” 

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