Legal Group to CDC: Start Over!

The Washington Legal Foundation has called on the Centers for Disease Control to withdraw the Draft Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain and essentially to “start over”.

In a letter, dated November 17, WLF said “We call on CDC to withdraw the Draft Guideline and to generate reliable data on ways to ensure adequate treatment of patients while preventing opioid abuse before renewing efforts to write a guideline.”

WLF is a non-profit public-interest law and policy center that is described as feeling strongly “that public support for the work of federal government agencies can be maintained only so long as the public perceives that their proceedings are administered fairly.

In the case of the CDC Guideline – WLF doesn’t think it meets that test.

In the letter to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director for CDC and Dr. Debra Houry, Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, WLF charges that “state governments and the medical community are unlikely to accept any guidelines tainted by charges that they were prepared in secret without meaningful stakeholder input and with the assistance of individuals who have serious conflicts of interest.”

The full letter written by attorneys Richard Samp and Mark Chenoweth of WLF can be viewed here.

They argue that the establishment and utilization of the Core Expert Group (CEG) violates the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA)-and urged CDC to consult with their own attorneys.

WLF also has requested under the Freedom of Information Act that CDC release all of its CEG related documents that should been released previously.

Essentially, the groups argues that the CDC process was not transparent, the CEG was a group established by CDC whose members are not federal employees, that the CDC has failed to comply with numerous procedural rules and that future administrative proceedings should be open to all “interested members of the public”.

Numerous chronic pain advocates have been very upset about the way the Guideline has been developed.

Samp and Chenoweth write, “The outcry that has arisen with respect to the current proceedings was entirely predictable in light of the secretive manner in which CDC conducted them.”

The letter concluded: “If the CDC is to overcome its tarnished image, it must begin immediately to eliminate its culture of secrecy and apply it s conflict of interest rules in an even handed manner.”