KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Drug Manufacturers Draw Attention For Politics And Pain Killers

Politico examines the relationship between industry-group PhRMA and congressional Republicans in the post-health-reform-debate landscape.

Politico: Republicans Find Lots To Love In PhRMA
If Republicans are mad about PhRMA's betrayal during the health reform debate, they sure have a funny way of showing it. Even though the pharmaceutical trade group was the first industry group to make a deal with the Obama administration to support health reform, Republicans are working hard to fast-track the passage of the industry's top legislative priority -- the reauthorization of the Food and Drug Administration "user fee" bill that regulates drug approvals (Feder, Norman and Dobias, 5/9).

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee is investigating connections between drug makers, medical groups and physicians who advocate the use of certain narcotic painkillers.

Modern Healthcare: Baucus, Grassley Probe Drugmakers' Ties
Citing a spike in the number of deaths from narcotic painkillers, two senators have started an investigation into the connections between three drug manufacturers and the medical groups and physicians who advocate the use of these drugs. In letters to Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson and seven organizations, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the committee's senior member, said it's clear that the "United States is suffering from an epidemic of accidental deaths and addiction resulting from the increased sale and use of powerful narcotic painkillers such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Opana" (Zigmond, 5/9).

CQ HealthBeat: Senate Finance Probing Ties Between Drug Makers, Nonprofits
The chairman and top Republican on the Senate Finance Committee launched an investigation Wednesday into the financial ties between three manufacturers of powerful painkillers and what the senators say are "supposedly independent" medical groups and associations that have distributed studies favorable to painkiller use (Norman, 5/9).

MedPage Today/Everyday Health: MedPage Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Series Triggers Senate Investigation
The U.S. Senate Committee on Finance has opened a wide-ranging investigation into questionable financial relationships between companies that make narcotic painkillers and various nonprofit organizations that advocate for the treatment of pain. Citing investigative reports by MedPage Today/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the committee is seeking financial and marketing records from three companies that make opioid drugs such as Oxycontin and Vicodin as well as seven national organizations that advocate for the treatment of pain (Fauber, 5/9).

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