Bipartisan McCaskill, Cassidy Proposal Would Bring Transparency to Payments from Opioid Manufacturers to Patient & Consumer Advocacy Groups

Senator’s bipartisan legislation follows McCaskill report that showed millions in payments between opioid manufacturers and advocacy groups

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill joined with Republican Senator Bill Cassidy, M.D. of Louisiana to introduce the bipartisan Opioid Advocacy Transparency Act, which would require opioid manufacturers to disclose payments made to patient and consumer organizations involved in opioid-related advocacy—similar to existing disclosure requirements governing payments to physicians.

The bipartisan legislation follows a McCaskill report released earlier this year which showed the connection between opioid manufacturers and advocacy organizations and found that certain major opioid manufacturers paid 14 patient advocacy groups and professional societies nearly $9 million from 2012 to 2017.

“What we’ve found is these third-party advocacy groups that appear to be working for patients are often funded by opioid manufacturers, which begs the question, who are they really advocating for?” McCaskill asked. “Opioid manufacturers certainly have the right to donate to these groups, but just like we’ve increased transparency on payments to doctors, folks ought to know who’s funding the efforts of these advocacy groups as well.”

“If doctors and patients are given educational material about pain medicine, doctors and patients should know who is paying to provide the information,” said Dr. Cassidy.

In 2016, approximately 115 people in the United States died every day from an opioid-related drug overdose, amounting to more than 42,000 fatalities in a single year.

McCaskill has long been an advocate for increased transparency in government and in healthcare spending. Earlier this year, McCaskill introduced the Patient Advocacy Transparency Act which would require transparency regarding payments from pharmaceutical manufacturers to patient advocacy groups, professional societies, and other groups by applying existing reporting requirements under the Physician Payments Sunshine Act to contributions to these organizations. Additionally, McCaskill released an investigative report that showed that drug prices directly negotiated by the government could save the Medicare Part D program $2.8 billion in a single year on the 20 most commonly prescribed brand-name drugs alone.

Continuing their bipartisan work to make healthcare transparent and affordable, McCaskill and Cassidy released a draft bipartisan plan last month to help protect patients from surprise medical bills, which comes their work as part of the Senate healthcare price transparency working group.

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