Do Financial Conflicts Influence CDC Guidelines For Prescription Opioids? Interview with:
Dora Lin, MHS
Sr. Research Assistant
Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
Center for Drug Safety and Effectiveness
Baltimore, MD 21205 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: In response to the opioid epidemic and growing number of overdose deaths each year, the CDC released draft guidelines to improve the safe use of opioids in primary care. The draft guidelines were open to public comment, and many organizations, ranging from professional societies to consumer advocates to local governmental organizations, submitted comments regarding the guidelines. We examined the levels of support or non-support for the draft guidelines among the 158 organizations who submitted comments.   We also examined each organization’s relationship to opioid manufacturers. Most organizations supported the guidelines, regardless of whether or not they had a financial relationship to a drug company. However, organizations receiving funding from opioid manufacturers were significantly more likely to be opposed to the guidelines than those who did not receive such funding. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: There is a remarkable lack of transparency regarding the flow of dollars from opioid manufacturers to a variety of intermediary organizations who may influence clinical guidelines, regulatory and payment policy and public opinion about these products.

While our study cannot determine how these financial relationships may have shaped organizations’ positions, they nevertheless underscore the urgent need for greater transparency regarding these relationships. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: More important than future research is greater clarity regarding the financial relationships between drug companies that manufacture opioids and the patient and professional groups that advocate for their use, especially in a setting where so many lives are at stake. 

Disclosures:  Dr. Alexander is Chair of the FDA’s Peripheral and Central Nervous System Advisory Committee, serves as a paid consultant to a mobile start-up PainNavigator, serves as a consultant to IMS Health, and serves on an IMS Health scientific advisory board. Dr. Alexander and Dr. Kolodny were part of a group of faculty from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health that submitted a comment to the CDC Docket. Dr. Kolodny is Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House and a member of the board of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP); PROP also submitted a comment to the CDC docket. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Financial Conflicts of Interest and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions.

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Last Updated on January 19, 2017 by Marie Benz MD FAAD