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Senator Scrutinizes Pharma Links on Government Pain Panel

A high-ranking Senator says he has "a number of concerns" about how panelists were screened for a government panel on pain issues, after an AP story found significant ties between the experts and big pharma.

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WASHINGTON (AP) — A high-ranking Senate Democrat is scrutinizing links between pharmaceutical companies and government advisers who recently criticized efforts to reduce painkiller prescribing.

Sen. Ron Wyden says he has "a number of concerns" about how panelists were selected and screened for an advisory panel on pain issues that includes experts from government and outside organizations. A recent Associated Press story found that nearly a third of panelists at a December meeting of the Interagency Pain Research Coordinating Committee had apparent financial ties to the painkiller manufacturers, including the maker of OxyContin.

At the meeting, several panelists bashed a federal plan to recommend that doctors dramatically curb prescribing of painkillers for chronic pain. The proposal by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is intended to curb deadly overdoses tied to prescription painkillers.

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