WHO to remove controversial opioid guidelines

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Wednesday that it will discontinue two publications on prescribing opioid analgesics in response to allegations that the pharmaceutical industry influenced the reports. U.S. Reps.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reported Wednesday that it will discontinue two publications on prescribing opioid analgesics in response to allegations that the pharmaceutical industry influenced the reports. U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark (D-MA) and Hal Rogers (R-KY) had previously accused WHO of being influenced by Purdue Pharma, claiming the guidelines, crafted in part by organizations with financial ties to the company, downplay the risk of opioids. Purdue has denied the allegations, and said it transparently discloses its relationships with doctors and organizations and markets its drugs only as they have been approved by FDA. The congressional report released last month tracked how doctors and organizations tied to Purdue, including many of the leading figures who worked to expand opioid prescribing in the United States in the 1990s, influenced the WHO document. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, MD, director-general of the WHO, wrote to Clark and Rogers that the guidelines from 2011 and 2012 would be removed in "light of new scientific evidence that has emerged" and that the removal of the reports should address the allegations of conflicts of interest. Since the reports were first published, he wrote, the agency has strengthened its ethics polices.