Congress Questions CDC: Who Drafted Controversial Opioid Guidelines?

The scrutiny of the CDC decision-making in developing its opioid guidelines has now spread to Congress.

In a letter to CDC Director, Thomas Frieden, the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform writes it is investigating whether CDC’s “Core Expert Group,” which was responsible for drafting controversial guidelines for prescribing opioids, is compliant with the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA).

“CDC has not provided clear information regarding the ‘Core Expert Group’s’ role,” the letter stated. “To date, CDC has not identified the group’s 17 members.”

“In its draft ‘Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain’ the CDC notes that it ‘recruited a Core Expert Group … to assist in interpreting the evidence and translating the evidence into recommendations.  CDC also stated that Core Expert Group “members provided individual consultation and were not part of a designated Federal Advisory Committee,” the letter continued.

“We expect CDC’s guideline drafting process to seek an appropriate balance between the risk of addiction and the need to address chronic pain. The CDC has utilized a ‘Core Expert Group’ in the drafting and development of opioid prescribing guidelines, raising questions whether CDC is complying with FACA,” wrote Representatives Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Elijah Cummings (D-MD), Jim Jordan (R-OH), Matt Cartwright (D-PA), Mark Meadows (R-NC), and Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

CDC has until January 5, 2016 to produce the following information to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:

  • Documents related to the selection process CDC used to identify its Core Expert Group to “include the identity and affiliation of group members and efforts of CDC to ensure that the composition of the Core Expert Group was balanced in terms of points of view expressed by members of the group.”
  • All documents related to its behind-closed-doors meeting in Atlanta
  • All documents given to CDC by members of the Group
  • All documents related to CDC’s compliance with FACA
  • A description of the process CDC used in getting input on the guidelines

CDC has also been asked to provide a briefing to the Committee by January 8, 2016.

CDC recently opened its Draft Guidelines for a second public comment after mounting criticism by chronic pain advocacy groups, as we reported. You can find tips and instructions on how to comment on the CDC Draft Guidelines here.

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