Senate Investigates Rx Drug Conspiracy

By Valerie Tejeda 05/10/12

Investigators seek to find who's been paying to publish misleading information about opioids and boost sales.

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The less people know, the more they sell.
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Some big pharma companies might be in cahoots with "non-profit" medical groups that advocate increased prescription opioid use, and a US Senate panel is determined to sniff it out. Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley (R) and Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus believe that allied groups and drug makers may be behind a suspicious marketing ploy that might be responsible for a large increase in deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses. "These painkillers have an important role in health care when prescribed and used properly,” Baucus says. “But pushing misinformation on consumers to boost profits is not only wrong, it's dangerous." Grassley and Baucus have sent letters to the drug makers—Johnson & Johnson, Endo Pharmaceuticals and Purdue Pharma—and seven medical groups, asking for financial record documents. Investigators hope to find if, and which, medical groups have been receiving financial support from manufacturers for promoting misleading information about opioids. "There is growing evidence pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market opioids may be responsible, at least in part, for this evidence by promoting misleading information," Baucus and Grassley write in their letters. One of the groups under investigation, the American Pain Foundation, was found to have printed guides for patients, policymakers and journalists that falsely advertised the benefits and downplayed the dangers of opioid painkillers.

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Entertainment journalist and author Valerie Tejeda spends her days reporting on books, television, and all things pertaining to pop culture, and spends her nights writing novels for teens. Her stories have appeared on a variety of different publications, including but not limited to: VanityFair, MTV, The Huffington Post, TeenVogue, She Knows, Latina, The Fix,, Cosmopolitan, and more. You can find Valerie on Linkedin and Twitter.