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WHO opioid guidelines are “marketing materials for Purdue,” say US members of Congress

BMJ 2019; 365 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.l2343 (Published 28 May 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;365:l2343
  1. Owen Dyer
  1. Montreal

Key guidelines from the World Health Organization on prescribing opioids for adults and children are tainted by drug industry influence and peddle dangerous and discredited myths that understate the dangers of addiction, a report by two representatives of the US Congress has found.

Katherine Clark, a Massachusetts Democrat, and Hal Rogers, a Kentucky Republican, collaborated to produce the report, which uses flow charts to allege that the marketing message of Purdue Pharma was transmitted through influential physicians and pressure groups, often handsomely reimbursed, to the committees that wrote WHO’s guidance.1

The report singles out two current WHO guidelines—one from 2011 suggesting national policy approaches to controlled substances and one from 2012 on persistent pain in …

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