CDC Does Not Comply with Federal Law

CDC Does Not Comply with Federal Law

Kurt W.G. Matthies

Kurt W.G. Matthies

What happened?

On November 17, 2015 the Washington Legal Foundation sent a formal letter to the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and its executive leadership, asking them to withdraw their Draft Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, and to make public the work of their Core Expert Group (CEG), a group central to the development of this document.

Who is the Washington Legal Foundation?

From their www.wlf.org /WLF Mission page:

“WLF is the nation’s premier public interest law and policy center. Our mission is to preserve and defend America’s free enterprise system by litigating, educating, and advocating for free market principles, a limited and accountable government, and individual and business liberties.”

What did this letter say?

The complaint states that CDC broke the rules laid down by the 1972 Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), which governs the behavior of federal advisory committees, and their work with the CEG should be discarded.

What is FACA?

FACA is part of a collection of legislative action by Congress that supports open-source governance. , to guarantee that their government be “objective and accessible to the public”.

FACA was developed during a time of challenges over the balance of power between the Executive and Legislative branches of the federal government. During the Johnson (1963-1968) and Nixon (1969-1974) administrations, executive power was being used to expand the Vietnam War, investigate political ‘enemies’, obfuscate public information about government activities considered ‘negative’ by a particular administration, and interfere with ongoing investigations of government wrong-doing.

This was the time of the Vietnam War, an active counter-cultural movement, and Watergate. It was a time when The People felt they had lost control of their government – and they wanted it back.

Other legislation from this period was designed to make government more accountable to the people, and to curb the excesses of the federal government included the 1966 Freedom of Information act and the 1976 Government in the Sunshine Act.

What is the CDC Draft Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain?

Good question. No one outside of the CDC and their CEG knows, and that’s the problem in a nutshell.

The CDC is attempting to respond to a rise in opioid use, and a rise in what they call opioid-related deaths. If you’ve been paying attention, you know that the National Pain Report has been presenting a series of articles about this problem, and the ongoing controversies surrounding these two issues. The “guidelines” are an attempt to control what they consider to be “the opioid crisis.”

These issues and the controversies that surround them are complex, and have been discussed and will continue to be followed by this online journal, as well as other online sources of information interested in the treatment of pain in America, and will not be repeated here.

Why is the CDC being criticized?

It’s called mushrooming. The experts advising the CDC on opioid policy, their “Core Expert Group,” are being kept secret from the public. That’s against the law.

Remember, mushrooms grow in the dark – which is where the CDC Guidelines are being developed.

The Washington Legal Group, and many interested in the treatment of pain in America want to know what their government is planning, and want greater input into the creation of these Guidelines, if they want them at all.

What will happen next?

Last year, Americans with an interest in the treatment of pain were promised an open, scientific dialog on the problems and possible solutions of a problem that involves 100 million Americans in pain, and over $600 billion dollars in annual medical expenditures in what was called a National Initiative on Pain. That effort failed many stakeholders, miserably.

Now, we’re getting a three ring circus of claims that include decrees of epidemics in Heroin use, addiction, and death. These negative outcomes have been laid at the door of “the out-of-control pain community” for its excessive pain prescribing practices.

The CDC is a respected institution, but has been known to make some bad decisions in the history of the American Public Health. Now they are planning guidelines, which really act as laws that many believe will call for the reduction of opioids in the treatment of pain — and they’re doing it in secret committees, behind closed doors, planning to release a final guideline document in January: signed, sealed, and delivered by fiat. This document will affect the quality of lives of millions of Americans who depend on opioid analgesics to function near the limits of normality, due to chronic pain disorders.

In America, we frown on governments that break the rules. We frown on government by fiat. We are a nation of people who believe in public discourse on important issues, which is guaranteed in our constitutional freedoms. When threatened, we have proven again and again, that we will fight for those freedoms.

The CDC has chosen to mushroom their consulting expert group because many come from the perspective that opioids have no proper use in the treatment of chronic pain.

In my November 9 opinion piece for NPR, The Power of Numbers/ Stand Up and Be Counted, I speculated on a few reasons why the CDC might want to keep their work a secret:

Opinion: The Power of Numbers: Stand Up and Be Counted

Perhaps now we’ll find reasons why they chosen to keep their work out of the light.

The Side Show

There’s talk that CEG member Jane Ballantyne, MD, FRCA, president of Physicians for the Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) is the author of these guidelines. She also consults to a large Washington law firm that has been involved in litigation against the major opioid manufactures. The WLG information is asking the question:

Is there a conflict of interest here?

Soon after this letter went public last night, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, MD, Executive Director of PROP, and Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House, a large addiction treatment organization, announced last night — there is no conflict of interest.

Look for breaking information on this important issue in these pages.

@kwgmatthies

#CDCGuidelines

#ChronicPain

#Opioids

#WLGLetter

#GetUpStandUp

#NatPainReport

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Authored by: Kurt W.G. Matthies

There are 9 comments for this article
  1. Chad OMealy at 2:31 pm

    There is a commonality with people with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain, it is the musculoskeletal. It is funny how on page 1 they state “the overall prevalence of common, predominately musculoskeletal pain conditions (e.g., arthritis, rheumatism, chronic back or neck problems, and frequent severe headaches) was estimated at 43% among adults in the United States. it further states a paragraph below “Clinicians should consider the full range therapeutic options for the treatment of Chronic Pain”. but know where in the report is a recommendation on how to do that, they completely miss this importance of Spine and Posture health until it becomes “chronic” nor does big Insurance want to pay for what is reasonably responsible and affordable without drugging people to mask one condition only creating another, Opioids while necessary in treatment of the worst of conditions only adds to the addictive behavior of our citizens creating legendary side effects and off the chart high rates of depression and suicide. Combating Big Pharma and Big Insurance to create a common sense approach to anything is near impossible.

  2. Kim Miller at 10:25 am

    Great job, Kurt, spelling out the selling out of pain patients! I appreciate your hard work and continued calling on the carpet of this unscrupulous lot. I will stop planning my post-suicidal funeral sans opioids, and wait to see how things go with the Washington Legal Foundation.

  3. Lisa at 10:15 am

    So how can we as Chronic Pain Advocates, take all this information to make sure we advocates get the same funding to get our truth out?

  4. I. Hollis at 3:42 pm

    Thank you Kurt, out of the darkness and into the light!! Hopefully pain patients can soon live without fright! It is disturbing how much influence PROP members are still having among policy makers, which is so negatively affecting pain patient care. I read with interest that Andrew Kolodny MD. was also a stakeholder in the new John Hopkins report. These measures if implemented are much worse for PAIN PATIENTS than what the CDC is proposing!!!
    Sure looks like conflict of interest. Time for real pain doctors to be asked to guide policy that doesn’t leave out real pain patients.
    “One of the ”stakeholders” and a signatory of the Johns Hopkins report is Andrew Kolodny, MD, founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), an advocacy group that seeks to end the overprescribing of opioids. Kolodny, who has collaborated with Dr. Alexander on other prescribing studies, is chief medical officer of Phoenix House, a non-profit that operates a chain of addiction treatment centers. According to a note on its website, “PROP is a program of Phoenix House Foundation.” 1.
    1.Pain News Network

  5. Frank S at 12:12 pm

    Kurt,
    It’s already too late. Doctors have already been reacting to this issue and I guess have realized they have nothing to back them up as they leave so many patients out in the cold. They were looking for something to hang their hat on from the government. You’re right, there’s nothing to back them up now,, and fed agencies with the real authority won’t do it. The DEA found a ninny for a front agency to push their plan.

  6. Julie ID at 10:26 am

    So let me get this straight…..the President and Executive Director for PROP both have hidden agendas….one as a consultant and the other as the CMO of a substance abuse facility and yet they find no conflict of interest?!??!??!!! This is criminal. They are messing with the lives of MILLIONS of people that rely on medications to get through whatever part of the day they can without excruciating pain. How is this ANY different than insider trading? They should both be held accountable for their actions. I am in disbelief that this has gotten as far as it has. Both need to step down and lawyer up. You both are a disgrace to the medical community.

  7. John Vineyard at 9:55 am

    I am just a simple advocate for chronic pain patients and physicians who take care of them. I started a petition a week ago to ask the peer support group for the CDC opiate guidelines to please consider giving pain patients and physicians some input on the guidelines. I have over 200 signatures so far and I’m trying for more every day. We all need to put pressure on them, the FDA is already making it hard.
    https://www.change.org/p/david-tauben-md-stop-government-control-of-your-health?recruiter=425114238&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=facebook&utm_campaign=share_for_starters_page&utm_term=mob-xs-no_src-no_msg

  8. Scott michaels at 9:53 am

    these peoe are nothing short of natzis. they want 1 race of people that must be able to live with life threatening pain. because we need this medication, they have grouped us with heroin drug addicts. therefore we are not welcome in their society. without our medication many of us will die and or go to thenstreets to relieve our pain. if that happens our pain is not being co trolled anymore and were on our own.
    they all know addiction is a desease.
    the drugs are the symptoms. just becaise you take away pain pills these people will still be addicts. i kike millions dont have the desease of addiction and take my very hi dose medication as directed. with out it i will be in so much pain

  9. LouisVA at 9:00 am

    Dr. Andrew Kolodny, MD of PROP and the Phoenix House says there was no conflict of interest? What a comedian!!!!!!!!