Lobbying About a Whole World of Pain Helped to Create the Painkiller Epidemic

One epidemic begot another. A lobbying group called the Pain Care Forum had been telling Congress for years about a crisis in pain, in which patients are not getting enough pain medication that they need, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. In 2012, drugmakers and their allies in the forum sent a letter to legislators saying that more than 100 million adults suffer from chronic pain.

“The letter made no reference to another health issue that had been declared an epidemic by federal authorities: drug overdoses tied to prescription painkillers,” the newspaper reported. “Deaths linked to addictive drugs like OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet had increased more than fourfold since 1999, accounting for more fatal overdoses in 2012 than heroin and cocaine combined.”