Did the Associated Press (AP) Just Diss Pain Advocacy Groups as “Veneer of Independence”?

Did the Associated Press (AP) Just Diss Pain Advocacy Groups as “Veneer of Independence”?

The Associated Press and The Center for Public Integrity have embarked on a “joint investigation” that has culminated in a two-part series.  The first article has sparked wide-spread media attention, and has chronic pain sufferers, advocates and healthcare practitioners talking – a lot.

Here are just a few parts of the article that have people in pain and advocacy groups reacting strongly.


The makers of prescription painkillers have adopted a 50-state strategy that includes hundreds of lobbyists and millions in campaign contributions to help kill or weaken measures aimed at stemming the tide of prescription opioids, the drugs at the heart of a crisis that has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction.

The drugmakers vow they’re combating the addiction epidemic, but The Associated Press and the Center for Public Integrity found that they often employ a statehouse playbook of delay and defend that includes funding advocacy groups that use the veneer of independence to fight limits on their drugs, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and fentanyl, the narcotic linked to Prince’s death.

Doctors continue to prescribe opioids for ailments such as back pain and headaches, even though studies have shown weak or no evidence that the drugs are effective ways to treat routine chronic pain — and even though they come with the risk of addiction.

One of the drugmakers’ most powerful political engines is their financial support for opioid-friendly advocacy groups.


Click here to read the article, “Drugmakers fought state opioid limits amid crisis” by the AP.

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Ada Pickett

I live every day with horrible, debilitating pain! I have a disease of the nervous system called CRPS, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Though the names has “syndrome” in it, it has now been ruled as a disease and not a syndrome.
I would love for these reporters to come and live in my skin just one day and see how long they would last without screaming for ANYTHING that would ease the pain, legal or illegal!
I myself have never taken illegal drugs and I wait as long as I can stand it before taking prescribed drugs for my pain.
How can someone judge and say what is right or wrong if they have NEVER experienced the pain I live with 24/7?
I did not choose this life! I would give anything to have my “old life before pain” back! ANYTHING! I would sell every procession I own and spend every penny I have to find relief…..to be able to walk through a mall, see my grandsons play football and go to the park with my granddaughters! I’d love to make plans with friends and not have to cancel every time! I’d love to take an evening stroll with my husband or take a dip in our pool. I’d love to go to church on Sundays and out to lunch afterwards with friends. I’d love to be able to clean my own house, cook meals for my family, take care of my aging Mother, bend down and pick a rose from my rose bushes. I’d love to take a family vacation like I did before CRPS. I’d like to be able to shower every day and dress each day. I’d love to see beautiful county, take a trip to the zoo, go to an amusement park, sit in my back yard and enjoy a sunset, or go to an ice cream shop for a cone! I’d like to go see a show at the movies, shop for groceries, run errands and just hang out with friends! I’d love to take our travel trailer and go camping, sit by a fire and roost marshmallows on a cool fall day! I’d love to have my life back before chronic, debilitating pain!
Don’t judge me until you have walked in my shoes!


Doug September 22, 2016 at 12:33 pm IT’S ABOUT TIME SOMEONE ELSE BESIDES ME POINTED OUT THE MEDIA as FUELING THE FIRE! Frankly, I cannot stand Sanjay Gupta! He is a “media doctor”. Just like Dr. Oz or Dr. Phil (although I respect them for their actual M.D. degree), they have also brought about the argument that: A patient can become addicted to prescription opiates in as little as 7 days”. Thus the new CDC Guidelines “suggestions”. I will say, I had a hysterectomy May of 2014. I was in horrible agony after that! One day and one night in the hospital was NOT enough! Even though it was the “minimally invasive surgery” as they call it? It was NO BETTER than the full fledged cut me open from belly button to tip of the pubic bone (which I had with a Cesarean Section in 1988). I was sent home with 45 Percocet from the Hysterectomy. Only because I was in a Pain Management Program at the time, AND I had followed the RULES and told P.M. about the upcoming surgery so they could monitor my prescription painkillers after surgery. Now, come to Sept 2016. That surgery was in 2014, with the P.M. full knowledge of my prescription I received from my surgeon for 45 pills. I was discharged from the P.M. center on 8/31/2016 for: “obtaining Narcotic Medication other than from my P.M. Facility”. So, I was honest, upfront and never obtained or attempted to obtain ANY NARCOTIC prescriptions from ANY OTHER DOCTOR while under their care. They USED my P.M. Medicine Agreement (signed that very day of the dismissal letter I received later, after Labor Day), to discharge me as a Pain Management Patient. I am outraged at this, they are allowed to discharge ANYONE AT ANYTIME for ANY REASON they see as “non-compliant patient”. There is no way around that. What I would like to see happen is this Prescription Drug Monitoring Program be investigated more. I obtaind my own records from my State. It took a few days, a lot of blood and certification to be able to VIEW my Prescription history for the past 6 years. There was NOTHING on my records that stated I EVER OBTAINED A NARCOTIC PRESCRIPTION from any other doctors during my time under their care. OTHER THAN, the Hysterectomy in 2014. THEY USED THAT INFORMATION ON THE PDMD AGAINST ME, for whatever reasons. I suspect the #1 reason was, fraudulent billings to my insurance company, starting back in April, 2016 to the tune of $25,000.00 for “labs”? My insurance company was able to reverse these fraudulent charges the Pain Management doctor’s charged to my insurance plan. Thankfully I do not owe anything on those. But…the point is, that they were billing my insurance for supposed “labs” that I never had done. Twice I had a urine test in 2016, surely it doesn’t cost $25,000.00 for urine tests? After much ado, I respectfully submit to all of you that carefully check… Read more »


WTF, we all need to understand that the national news media is hurting us worse than those ignorant politicians in Washington DC. CNN with AC 360, Sanjay Gupta, and now the Associated Press are printing or broadcasting what ever the DEA and CDC want them too. These are malicious attacks against people in pain that are designed to make anyone who takes an opiate look like an addict.

First in all their reports they FAIL to distinguish between PRESCRIPTION OPIATES & PRESCRIBED OPIATES in their statistic reporting.

Second, they use the connection of Prince’s death and opiates as if he were prescribed Percocet laced with Fentanyl leading their readers to believe that the opiates he died from were manufactured by pharmaceutical companies instead of Chinese drug Cartels.

Third, they play on the ignorance of their readers by connecting dependency and addiction insinuating that they are one in the same cementing in the public eye that everyone who takes opiates are addicts.

Here are my questions and it should be the very same questions we all should be asking ourselves.

Wouldn’t publicly reporting untruths that label or alienate a spacific group of people from the rest of the population be considered Slander and Defamation of Character?

Why the HELL aren’t we going after these reporters and the media outlets they work for? Their reports are lies based on more lies. Even though hundreds, if not thousands of real fact based medical studies and articles are out there showing both the pros and cons of opiate pain medications. These uncaring and ill informed reporters chose only to report the cons and half truths in order to feed the national Opiophobic Monster. In other words, they are reporting exactly what the Alphabet Soup Group, (CDC, DEA & FDA) wants them to. We should be DEMANDING that if these media outlets insist on telling this story that they report both sides of it.

christine taylor

what a joke. A study was done in Canada and it concluded that people are helped by opiates but there is a limit. After a certain amount example 75mcg Fentanyl, they are no longer helped.

I think the amount would be a bit higher but it is true that we develop a tolerance and if we are not using other measures for pain control the amount of narcotics we are taking would not be sufficient to relieve our pain adequately; and we would have to keep getting it increased which can lead to overdose.

I suffered so long with unrelieved pain that when I finally found a doctor to treat it I worried about tolerance, I use many methods to help and also go some days without taking anything even if I am in pain. I also use Lyrica at times. By doing this I have been able to keep my dose the same and have relief when I need it.

I. Hollis

The Eleventh hour push…all this media blitz last two days, and to add to it, now the Attorney General targeting doctors. This is sounding more like desperation-and not dealing with the real problem….illegal drugs.
So let me get this straight, they are going to deal with the HEROIN problem by going after DOCTORS?????????? Really???
From USA Today-
“Exclusive: Obama administration to launch new effort on heroin crisis”
“The plan, outlined by Attorney General Loretta Lynch in an interview with USA TODAY, is part of an eleventh-hour push by the Obama administration against a public health crisis that continues to claim nearly 100 people each day in the United States……..The Justice Department is preparing to launch a renewed strategy to address the unrelenting scourge of heroin and opioid addiction, in part by placing greater emphasis on identifying links between over-prescribing doctors and distribution networks across the country.
In a memo that is expected to be circulated next week to all 94 U.S. attorney offices, Lynch said prosecutors are being urged to more readily share information across state lines about prescription drug abuses by physicians that could identify traffickers and far-flung trafficking routes more quickly”.
There is no magic bullet for this Attorney General Loretta Lynch told USA TODAY.”
(but can you at least AIM in the right direction!)


Cathy M

I read that article in my local paper and about flipped! That is incrimination by insinuation!! They have no right to ‘drop hints’ without any proof whatsoever that there’s anything nefarious going on!! I was just raging, and the worst thing is now one has to be a subscriber to the paper to make any comment online… I really hope Nat’l Pain Report and others are contacting media to fight back against this “investigation” (meh).

Here is a quote from a DEA official
“One out of five, when the peer pressure hits, tries it. And then that person who tries it, one out of four is immediately addicted. That’s how scary this is,” Wichern said.
from this news article…https://abc7chicago.com/news/dea-seeks-to-raise-awareness-about-growing-heroin-problem/1517935/


I have just ONE THING TO ADDRESS HERE, and that is THIS STATEMENT in the original post: “Doctors continue to prescribe opioids for ailments such as back pain and headaches, even though studies have shown weak or no evidence that the drugs are effective ways to treat routine chronic pain — and even though they come with the risk of addiction.”

I’d LOVE TO KNOW WHERE THAT MIGHT BE? According to the article, Big Pharma will LOSE MONEY? HA! Who is losing is the pain patients.

I am in the battle of my lifetime, from being a scapegoat to the CDC’s guidelines to insurance company scams and onto the physicians telling me to ‘either get a spinal implant or find another doctor’.


“has cost 165,000 Americans their lives and pushed countless more to crippling addiction.”

Um, they left out the part where this amount (165,000) is over a 15 year span (IIRC 1999 thru 2014). This averages out to about 11,000 per year. Strangely enough, they also left out the fact that 88,000 die each year in this country due to alcohol and alcohol-related deaths … and the fact that 480,000 die each year in this country due to cigarette smoking. Ironic that two substances with no medicinal value whatsoever remain legal while medication that helps alleviate pain and suffering is demonized. But let’s not forget these two substances pull in quite a bit of local, state and federal government revenue, as they’re subjected to higher tax rates (aka “sin taxes). (For the record, in no way am I wanting the government to push further restrictions, taxes or bans on alcohol and tobacco. I am merely pointing out the sheer hypocrisy of all this).


My head is spinning, I’m nauseous, and I want the movie to be over.

Tootie Welker

My response to the article in Montana papers:
Let’s put this in perspective. 165,000 deaths since 2000 yet over 400,000 die EACH YEAR due to preventable medical error. Here’s a link to just one story covering it, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/05/03/476636183/death-certificates-undercount-toll-of-medical-errors. It is the 3rd leading cause of death and some say it would be #1 except it’s not always reported. What they also don’t say is that the majority of deaths aren’t due to opioids alone but in combination with benzodiasipenes and/or alcohol. They also don’t mention that Kolodny is the ED of Phoenix House, a non profit addiction business that had several of it’s centers closed in NY due to major concerns over how they were run. Here’s a link https://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/usa-rehab-phoenixhouse/. If we had true reporting they would tell the whole story, not just cherry pick what they like. Montana also has a high suicide rate but according to Karl Rosston, state suicide prevention coordiantor “one often-overlooked number is that 40 percent of Montana’s completed suicides involved people with severe medical problems, including terminal illness or chronic pain.” The current opioid hysteria is preventing folks with chronic pain access to relief. Bob Mason, a patient of Dr. Mark Ibsen, committed suicide a day after the medical board suspended Dr. Ibsen’s medical license and Mason felt dispair in finding someone to treat his chronic patin effectively. We also don’t know how many opioid deaths were actually suicides since most coronors are not doctors, autopsies are not performed to see what else might have contributed to the death. I’ve had 4 back surgeries and live daily with chronic pain that is undertreated. While I am sorry about the loss people have dealt with due to OD’s but lets also remember that people with chronic pain are also being harmed now by the over reaction.


I read the whole article and I really don’t know where they are getting these lies from. I live in New Mexico and it is really hard to get opiod drugs for pain. I’ve been reduced to 3 pills a day from the 4 pills a day. So I never sleep any more I’m in so much pain. I have to take the (Yes, I’m taking my medicine drug test) which cost my insurance $5000.00 a pop. I’m told every time I see the doctor that all of us with chronic pain are drug addicts and that we never take them because we sell them all for money. So now I’m a drug dealer as far as the state of New Mexico is concerned. I find it strange. How can I be a drug addict and sell all of my pain pills at the same time? I really don’t know all that is going on in our state but people with chronic pain are really suffering. I was told by one doctor that its because I’m lazy and if I wasn’t lazy I wouldn’t have pain. I ended up on hydrocodone because I could no longer take aspirin, Ibuprofen, or tylenol. I also was allergic to Lyrica and gabapentin. The Hydrocodone does help my pain. It used to help me sleep and keeps it down to a level 7 or 8 pain than a 10 pain. I really don’t want a 10 pain and so I hope the government stops making it hard for me to get treatment.

Martha Mayes

I think we need to be writing to AP and to the Center For Public Integrity. It’s great to comment on here, but are AP and the Center For Public Integrity going to read these comments? These people need to hear the truth, and know that they are harming innocent people. I urge all chronic pain patients to write to them. Here is the name of a reporter who contributed to this article, plus I think you can email him on Twitter.

Associated Press health reporter Matthew Perrone contributed to this report.


Follow Mulvihill at https://www.twitter.com/geoffmulvihill ,



Big Pharma will still make record profits since opioids are not even their biggest sellers. Erection pills and blood thinners will keep them going while chronic pain sufferers will either suffer even more, take their chances on the streets or kill themselves which IMO is a large part of the deaths of this “opioid epidemic” but of course those numbers will not be researched or included in any breakdowns. Lump all the deaths together legal, illegal drugs, suicide or overdose, it goes in one big pile to distort the numbers and support an agenda.

scott michaels

Thank goodness that at least the pharmaceutical companies are on our side. i dont care that for them its about money. The govt and doctors would just assume let us live in extreme pain, find pain relief on the streets and o.d.
We a a nation of people that sacraficed our bodies to take care of our families and our country.
As long as chronic pain patients take their medicine as directed, they wont do heroin, they cant dr.shop and they can live a quality life.
The media know the numbers alre lies yet the contine to print the lies.
Clinton backs these inhumane actions. So, i dont care if you hate trump. If you want your medication ,you better vote for him. She will outlaw all opiate pain relievers.
big pharma knows this, that is why theynare finally doing what it takes to continue to get us treated

Doc Anonymous

Since there are no citation of sources and the information is more in the form of opinionated expose than valid journalism, the Center for Public Integrity seems to have violated its own policies. Here is a link to their professed standards of reporting. You can judge for yourself whether they have met their own standards or whether they have violated those standards.



I don’t really have concerns with what the drug companies are doing. They definitely are not allies of chronic pain sufferers, they are just trying to protect their bottom dollar however, it does appear that they are being decievious about it. It’s all just a viscous circle. Patients can’t receive their pain medications and feel like they are having to jump through hoops, like trained circus animals, due to over regulating, and the ones that don’t sit pretty and strike a pose, unfortunately go looking for anything to ease the pain, and sadly, it turns out to be heroin. How do we stop this? What are the chronic pain sufferers supposed to do? I don’t know the answers but I do know that the government needs to take some part of the blame for the growing epidemic!
So you see, my issue isn’t with the drug companies and their underhanded tactics. To chronic pain sufferers, we have much larger issue’s and it isn’t the first time that major drug companies have done this. Let them go protect their bottom dollar, and we, as chronic pain sufferers, will continue to fight the real war!


This has got to stop. These sociopathic news agency’s are causing untold harm to american citizens in the name of stroking their sick egos. Why is no one with the financial means helping us and discrediting all these falsehoods these people put out as hard facts. The pharmaceutical companies and the doctors that do treat intractable patients know the truth and have the evidences of years of data to prove the truth and help us, yet NO ONE IS DOING ANYTHING TO STOP ALL THIS BULL****. Help us please….

Mary s

I wish these people who font have chronic pain walk one minute in my shoes. Tell me I’m nuts and just put me down, for death! I have a spinal injury. It’s with chronic nerve damage. I more than anyone else would like to have my life back and not be depended on pain medication to live my life. I have chronic nerve damage. I want my life back. My only way to function somewhat is medication. My pain meds take the edge off to allow me to stand up and walk. Use my hands, use my arms, use my body that you nochronic people take for granted.
Who are you people telling me I can’t be in this life with out this dibateling pain. You all that don’t suffer chronic pain have no idea of the life I’ve had to suffer for the last 30 years.


Routine chronic pain? Is that like a routine heart attack? What other alternatives to manage pain are “proven” to be effective?

Nancy R

Where can you find accurate statistics? There are so many variables, I’m not sure how any statistics can be accurate.


I read this article in the Winston-Salem Journal and found it so offensive from a chronic pain point-of-view. The use of innumerable generalizations and consistently lumping opiod medications and heroin together, as if the use of one guarantees the use of the other, made the article appear, to the uneducated or inexperienced, to be full of irrefutable facts. It’s reckless and dangerous for such a “respected” news organization as the Associated Press to print such drivel, especially when the article makes it appear that every organization that supports those suffering from severe, intractable pain is actually being financed by the pharmaceutical companies that make narcotic pain medications. And the AP does a very good job of making that point, even though there is no mention of the US Pain Foundation, the National Pain Report or any other organization driven by the actual people who depend on the use of opioid medications.

This is another case where we, as pain sufferers, need to write a “letter to the editor” of our local newspapers. I am certain this article appeared in newspapers around the country due to the influence the AP has in the printed newspaper industry. This type of campaign is being waged by very powerful and influential groups. If we, the pain sufferers, don’t stand up to this campaign built on half-truths and, yes, lies, then we all will be suffering, much sooner than most thought possible.

Read this article and find out if it was published in your local newspaper or one of the large, regional papers where you live,. Then, respond with a logical, fact-based letter to the editor of that specific newspaper. I’m sure that many fellow chronic pain sufferers, including myself, or the National Pain Report and the US Pain Foundation can help with any questions about the most effective way to write your letter.

This AP “report” presents its information as fact. The average reader, who doesn’t have experience with our pain, needs to hear the other side of the argument. If we don’t stand up for ourselves, then we have no one else to blame when all of our medications are taken away from every single one of us, regardless of the legitimacy of the reasons. There is a war being waged on ALL opioid medications and the doctors that prescribe them. We all need each other to fight for what is right. And it starts with getting the truth out in the public arena.

Mark Ibsen MD

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Mark Ibsen MD