In his latest conflict of interest investigation, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Fauber takes on a challenge that, even by his standards, is an ambitious one.
Photo by somegeekintn via Flickr.
He attempts to show the effect pharmaceutical money and the local researchers who received it had on national opinions toward powerful prescription painkillers and how it all influenced the American epidemic of opiate abuse.
He focuses on the University of Wisconsin Pain and Policy Studies Group, which has received millions from painkiller manufacturers while publishing drug-friendly research and warning against increased regulation of OxyContin and its ilk. Many of these millions, Fauber found, appear not to have been disclosed in relevant publications even as the group was paving the way for the rapid rise of painkiller prescriptions in America.
The drugs had initially been approved for a very narrow range of uses, but became extremely popular as off-label use for the management of chronic pain spread like wildfire. It’s not easy to draw clean lines between the Wisconsin group and off-label use, but Fauber’s deft investigative work and careful sourcing make a strong case.