FDAnews Drug Daily Bulletin
Pharmaceuticals / Regulatory Affairs

Lawmakers Claim Purdue Influenced WHO Opioid Guidelines

June 4, 2019

A bi-partisan congressional report claims that Purdue Pharma helped shape World Health Organization recommendations for prescribing opioids.

The OxyContin manufacturer funneled money into organizations, people and research in order to sway two WHO opioid prescribing guidelines released in 2011 and 2012, Reps. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.) and Hal Rogers (R-KY) allege in their report.

“The web of influence we uncovered paints a picture of a public health organization that has been manipulated by the opioid industry,” said Clark. “The WHO appears to be lending the opioid industry its voice and credibility, and as a result, a trusted public health organization is trafficking dangerous misinformation that could lead to a global opioid epidemic.”

According to the report, the two WHO guidelines on treating severe pain—one for children and one for adults—“alarmingly” copy Purdue’s marketing strategies for increasing prescriptions and sales. The reports make “dangerously misleading” and false claims about the safety of prescription opioids, the lawmakers said.

Following their investigation, Clark and Rogers sent the WHO a letter urging it to withdraw the guidelines, issue a global warning not to adhere to them, and explain how its internal safety nets allowed the alleged scheme to blossom.

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