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Follow the Money: Pain, Policy, and Profit

MedPageToday, 2012

An FSMB spokesperson said there were many reasons for it to codify a position on the prescribing of opioids, and among those reasons was a project supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to seek some common ground in the treatment of chronic pain.
A Journal Sentinel / MedPage Today investigation suggests it was the $693,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to University of Wisconsin that started the ball rolling down this slippery slope.
Last year, the Journal Sentinel / MedPage Today reported that the UW Pain group had received $2.5 million from Purdue and several other opioid makers between 1999 and 2010.
After the story ran last April, the UW Pain group said it had decided to stop taking money from the drug industry.
But that decision does not change the time line for the FSMB pain management policy -- at nearly every step along the way, financial connections between the FSMB policy and companies that make the drugs can be found.
For example: The RWJ-funded project started with an advisory committee that recruited several pain experts who had ties to makers of opioids -- a core group that included J.
David Haddox, DDS, MD, then a member of the Purdue Pharma speaker's bureau, who went on to become a Purdue employee.
FSMB's involvement started with a guideline written in 1998 and then with it model policy, which was adopted in 2004.
With that policy in hand, the FSMB decided to spread the word to the nation's physicians by translating the policy into a book and it delegated that task to Scott Fishman, MD, a University of California, Davis physician with extensive financial ties to pharmaceutical companies that market opioids.
FSMB not only asked Purdue for money, it also reached out to a total of six opioid makers for money to produce and distribute "Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Physician's Guide," but it won't disclose how much each company contributed.