U.S. Senate to Investigate Financial Ties of Pain Experts

The Senate Finance Committee has launched an inquiry into financial ties between producers of prescription painkillers and the doctors and patient advocacy groups that help to set guidelines for drug use, the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

The manufacturers of OxyContin, Percocet, and Duragesic are among the targets of the inquiry, which is led by Sen. Max Baucus (D-Montana) and Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa). The Pain and Policy Studies Group at the University of Wisconsin and the American Pain Foundation, which closed last week, according to its website, also received letters asking for information about ties to drug makers.

The investigation comes amidst the increasing number of prescription drug overdoses that InvestigateWest reported on in January.

ProPublica’s Dollars for Docs project, which makes information about drug company payments to doctors publicly accessible, has led to a flurry of stories in the media, and the Seattle Times recently won a Pulitzer for its investigation into methadone and pain control.

More coverage of the Senate inquiry: Reuters, Pharmalot, ProPublica.

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