The corruption that has occurred with pharmaceutical  and medical device companies has become more apparent in recent years.  I’ve documented a few instances in this blog.  Here we discussed a Texas law suit against Johnson and Johnson for marketing Risperidal for children. Here we discussed drug companies being forced to disclose pay outs to doctors. But if you go to either post there are more examples of this “too cozy” relationship.

In this article they do a good job looking at the evolution of the use of hard narcotics for less serious, less lethal illness.  The results have been poor because overdose is such a hazard with these medications (Oxycontin, Vicodin, Fentanyl.)

May 8, 2012
Senate Inquiry Into Painkiller Makers’ Ties

By BARRY MEIER

Two senior senators said on Tuesday that they had opened an investigation into financial ties between producers of prescription painkillers and pain experts, patient advocacy groups and organizations that set guidelines on how doctors use the drugs.

In a letter, the Senate Finance Committee said that it was undertaking the inquiry to make sure that doctors and patients were getting accurate information about the medications’ risks and benefits, uncolored by the financial interests of producers.
Narcotic painkillers, called opioids, are the most widely prescribed class of drugs in the United States. In the last decade, the number of prescriptions doctors write annually for drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin, fentanyl and methadone has jumped fourfold.

In some states, more people die in a year from overdoses involving such drugs than are killed in highway accidents. Concerns are growing that patients face significant risks from these drugs when they are used at high doses or over long periods…
At one time, the use of strong opioids was largely limited to cancer patients or those at the end of life. But in the late 1990s, drug companies including Purdue Pharma started promoting them for broader uses, like the treatment of arthritis, back pain and other conditions.

It was about then that the financial ties between drug makers, pain specialists, patient advocacy groups and other organizations began to grow. ..