President's Response to McCaskill Report
On Feb. 12, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) issued a report citing contributions from opioid manufacturers in the last five years to 14 different pain care professional societies and advocacy organizations, including the American Pain Society. The report simplistically and unfairly concluded that we advanced the marketing goals of opioid companies in exchange for financial support and often "echoed and amplified messages favorable to increased opioid use" – and ultimately to the financial interests of opioid manufacturers.
APS is disappointed that Senator McCaskill's report contained misleading, nonfactual and frankly insulting conclusions regarding the support that APS has received in recent years from the pharmaceutical industry.
We are also disturbed that no one from the Senator's staff contacted APS to inquire about our policies and procedures governing industry grants. Had they done so, we would have described in detail the firewall and policies that separate the Board from industry sponsors. We would have documented in detail the educational and pain research initiatives APS has pursued to help resolve the opioid crisis. For example, APS leaders were major contributors to the landmark National Pain Strategy (NPS) which was mentioned positively in Senator McCaskill's report. Recently APS has been actively developing policy recommendations to implement the goals of the NPS which include expanded opioid education and training for prescribers and an increase in funding for pain research that improves treatment options mitigating the use of and need for opioids in the clinical setting.
We have always been transparent about APS revenue sources. APS revenues from industry are devoted to unrestricted grants for education and specific projects, such as young investigator and non-pharmacological treatment research. Grantors are not allowed to influence content or scientific presentations sponsored by APS. Industry exhibits are clearly demarcated and separated from the scientific sessions. Sen. McCaskill unfairly and naively equated financial support with undue industry influence and control. This simplistic and wrong assumption damages our reputation and history of scientific integrity and advocacy on behalf of the public, pain management clinicians, researchers, and patients.
APS will continue to advocate on behalf of pain research funding, support the future leaders of the pain field, and continue to build a multidisciplinary community that brings together a diverse group of scientists, clinicians, and other professionals to increase the knowledge of pain and transform public policy and clinical practice to reduce pain-related suffering.