Wyden questions conflicts of interest in FDA opioid training
A lawmaker has asked HHS and the FDA to postpone a workshop designed to train healthcare providers on ways to safely prescribe opioids, citing concerns that some participants have close ties to opioid makers.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, called on HHS to conduct a full conflict-of-interest review and ensure that participants have no financial ties or partnerships with opioid companies.
In a letter to HHS Secretary Tom Price Friday, Wyden said the two-day workshop should be postponed until all groups scheduled to take part have been cleared.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is slated to put on the two-day workshop on Tuesday and Wednesday to gain insight into the challenges affecting opioid prescription training for providers.
Some of the organizations Wyden identified as having potential conflicts included the Academy of Integrative Pain Management, the American Chronic Pain Association and the American Pain Society, all of which Wyden claimed have received financial support from opioid makers.
"The longstanding and ongoing financial relationships between opioids manufacturers and participants in the upcoming FDA workshop warrant your intervention to investigate and minimize potential conflicts of interest when addressing a matter of life and death," Wyden wrote.
American Pain Society CEO Catherine Underwood denied Wyden's claims that her group has financial ties with drugmakers, saying such a relationship no longer existed. She acknowledged her group partners with a number of drug companies such as Pfizer to fund grant opportunities to address improving pain care as outlined within the National Institutes of Health's National Pain Strategy.
"I feel that he is off-base," Underwood said. "I feel he is making accusations without accurate knowledge of the facts and it's just unfortunate."
The ACPA did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding Wyden's claims. A representative with the Academy of Integrative Pain Management declined to comment.
The American Medical Association, American Academy of Physician Assistants, American Association of Nurse Practitioners and American Society of Addiction Medicine are also slated to participate in the workshop. All of these groups have been largely supportive of clinical guidelines issued last year by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for prescribing opioids.
Wyden's letter is just the latest criticism of the Trump administration's approach to the opioid epidemic.
Last week, reports surfaced that the administration's budget office had sent a letter to employees at the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy on a proposal to cut its budget by 95% over current funding levels, effectively eliminating the agency.
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