Findings from a 2012 investigation into makers of powerful painkillers and their relationship with organizations that promote the use of those drugs should be made public in an ongoing effort to curb the prescription drug abuse epidemic.
Thirty-six entities made up of physician groups, addiction agencies and consumer advocacy organizations have signed a letter to the U.S. Senate Finance Committee asking it to release the data from the three-year-old investigation. The probe was prompted by concerns that drug companies and the organizations they fund may be aggravating the nation’s prescription drug addition and overdose problem by promoting misleading information about the safety and effectiveness of powerful opioids.
Opioids are potent painkillers designed to treat the most severe pain, such as cancer or postoperative pain. However, the drugs are sometimes prescribed for common conditions such as low back pain, where the risks outweigh the benefits.
Because they offer a feeling of euphoria, they are often abused and misused. An overdose can cause respiratory distress which can lead to death. The number of unintentional overdose deaths from prescription pain relievers has soared in the United States, more than quadrupling since 1999, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
In 2012, investigators sent letters to three opioid drug makers and seven nonprofit organizations requesting records on the medications. The Senate Finance Committee allegedly spent months poring through the data. But the information was never made public.
The group of agencies and organizations aimed at fighting the prescription drug addiction epidemic urged committee members, “To bring our nation’s epidemic of opioid addiction to an end, we must reduce overprescribing of opioids. This goal will be difficult to achieve if opioid makers, and the groups they fund, continue to promote aggressive and inappropriate prescribing. We urge you to release the findings from the Committee’s investigation of their activities.”
The agency called the findings of the investigation are not only of historical importance, “they are crucial to saving lives because these groups continue promoting aggressive opioid use and continue blocking federal and state interventions that could reduce overprescribing,” said Dr. Michael Carome, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research group. “This addiction epidemic will not go away on its own. We need Congress to act.”
Source: Corporate Crime Reporter