The World Health Organization has rescinded its opioid prescribing guidelines after a congressional report accused the agency of being corrupted by the powerful drugmaker Purdue Pharma.The May report from US Representatives Katherine Clark, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, said that Purdue funded organizations, people, and research to influence the WHO. As a result, the organization’s opioid prescribing guidelines from 2011 and 2012 contained “dangerously misleading and, in some instances, outright false claims about the safety and efficacy of prescription opioids,” according to Clark and Rogers.In a statement this week, the Geneva-based health organization said, “WHO is discontinuing these guidelines in light of new scientific evidence that has emerged since the time of their publication. This will also address any issues of conflicts of interest of the experts that have been raised.”Clark said she was pleased by that decision but said the WHO still should acknowledge that it was infiltrated by opioid makers.“We are encouraged that they have taken down the guidelines that we objected to,” Clark said in an interview Thursday. “We see this as a very positive first step.”Purdue has denied that it sought to corrupt the WHO and said the congressional report “seeks to vilify the company through baseless allegations.”Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue is accused of helping to spawn the opioid epidemic through aggressive marketing of its painkillers, including OxyContin. The company is facing lawsuits in many states, including Massachusetts, for its alleged role in the deadly opioid addiction crisis.
June 21, 2019