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Doctor Under Senate Investigation Lashes Out at JournalistMarianne Skolek Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter
Perry Fine, MD accuses me of "really really bad journalism" -- but I'm not the one who is under investigation by the U.S. Senate...
(MYRTLE BEACH, SC) - As a background to this article, there is a U.S. Senate investigation of the pharmaceutical industry focusing on companies such as the maker of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma as well as their funded pain organizations and physicians who advocate the use of addictive painkillers and possibly profiting from the prescription drug epidemic.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus of Montana and Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa sent letters to Purdue Pharma, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Johnson & Johnson and nine pain organizations, saying “there is growing evidence pharmaceutical companies that manufacture and market opioids may be responsible, at least in part, for this epidemic by promoting misleading information about the drugs’ safety and effectiveness.”
The letters accuse industry supported pain organizations of playing a major role in spreading that misinformation.
“Improper relationships between pharmaceutical companies and the organizations that promote their drugs can put lives at risk. These painkillers have an important role in health care when prescribed and used properly, but pushing misinformation on consumers to boost profits is not only wrong, it’s dangerous,” Sen. Baucus said in a statement Baucus and Grassley asked the three drug makers for a list of all payments they’ve made since 1997 to nine pain organizations, including the American Pain Foundation, the American Academy of Pain Medicine, the American Pain Society and the Federation of State Medical Boards. In addition, the Senate will be asking for payments made to several prominent physicians in the field of pain management, including Russell K. Portenoy, MD, Chairman, Department of Pain Medicine and Palliative Care, Beth Israel Medical Center, New York, Scott Fishman, MD, Chief of the Department of Pain Medicine, University of California, Davis; Perry Fine, MD, Professor of Anesthesiology, Pain Research Center, University of Utah School of Medicine; and Lynn Webster, MD, Medical Director and Founder of the Lifetree Clinical Research & Pain Clinic in Salt Lake City, Utah. My article last week focused on Perry Fine, MD and also someone the Senate does not have in their radar for some reason -- Curtis Wright, MD. Wright was not named in the Senate investigation, but neither was another physician I referenced named J. David Haddox, MD. It doesn't seem fair that Dr. Fine should be named, but Drs. Wright and Haddox who were so instrumental in the push of opioids to the medical profession resulting in a rise of approximately 300% in the last decade in opioid prescriptions being written -- and neither one is currently under Senate investigation. Dr. Fine sent an email to my boss at Salem-News.com indicating in the subject "really really bad journalism." I decided to respond to Dr. Fine's criticism of my journalism by answering his email in italics and blue type in the hope that the U.S. Senate doesn't investigate me for "really really bad journalism."
Dr. Fine's email is as follows:
Dear Mr. King:
I trust that as an editor and journalist you subscribe to the journalistic code of ethics that above all endorses the essential tenet of fairness and truthful representation of facts.
Whatever credibility Marianne Skolek may have had by way of patient advocacy, she has lost it with her August 5, 2012 article “Two Physicians and Their Motives Leading to Financial Gain”.
Not only was I never interviewed, nor given the opportunity to respond to her accusations and labeling as a “criminal”, she did not do any reasonable form of fact-checking.
My reference to "criminal" was Dr. Fine posting on the Purdue Pharma "In the Face of Pain" website (complete text below in "red") that "Meanwhile, all clinicians who treat people living with chronic pain need to revise their classically taught view that pain is merely a symptom of some other underlying condition in order to accommodate the current science that increasingly suggests that the panoply of chronic pain conditions resemble disease states in and of themselves." I do consider any clinician being encouraged to view pain as a disease and not a symptom as criminal.
First, and somewhat trivially, but meaningfully and emblematic of her poor journalism, is her misnaming the American Academy of Pain Medicine. More relevant is the fact that I have never had anything to do with Oxycontin development, sales, marketing or promotion; I have never been a Purdue Pharma speaker. I have never had any relationship with Curtis Wright, and I fail to understand the association that is being implied by linking us. In inciting the powerful negative emotions that many of Ms. Skolek’s readers attribute to this pharmaceutical company and this product, and connecting them with my name, your readership will jump to false conclusions that may have a seriously negative impact on both my reputation and-- due to the highly inflammatory nature of her choice of words-- my personal safety.
Yes I am guilty of "really really bad journalism" I was dealing with so many pain societies funded by pharma to push opioids that I referred to the American Academy of Pain Medicine (AAPM) as the American "Association" of Pain Medicine. The U.S. Senate is, in fact, investigating the American Academy of Pain Medicine. I didn't realize that Dr. Fine was never a "Purdue Pharma speaker." Maybe someone posted Dr. Fine's quotation on the Purdue Pharma website and he just was not aware of it. And posting on the website of Purdue Pharma does not qualify as a "speaker" -- not verbally at least.
In addition, the Medscape Education website http://www.medscape.org/
Perry G. Fine, MD, has disclosed the following relevant financial relationships:
Served as an advisor or consultant for: Ameritus; Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C.; MEDA; Purdue Pharma L.P.; King Pharmaceuticals Inc.; Covidien
I'm happy to provide Dr. Fine with this information so he can explain this to the Senate Finance Committee. You know Medscape posting something untrue. But then I am just a really, really bad journalist so I will defer to the U.S. Senate to sort out truth from falsehoods.
I am sure there are tens of thousands of family members who would like to testify in front of the Senate on the "personal safety" of their sons and daughters who are either dead or hopelessly addicted to the opioids that were pushed causing this prescription drug epidemic and necessitating a Senate investigation.
Furthermore, to decry bringing attention to, no less a fervent call to arms for necessary research and healthcare professional education in the area of pain care when it is well-recognized now that both are sorely lacking makes no sense. I and the American Academy of Pain Medicine have repeatedly gone on record as advocating for mandatory prescriber education before being able to prescribe controlled substances, especially opioid analgesics of any sort. The epidemic of prescription opioid misuse/abuse/morbidity/
The below videos -- specifically #11 entitled Medications - Opioids" as recorded of Dr. Fine may be of interest to the Senate Finance Committee. In particular, the quotation "True addiction -- a small portion of the population and the risk of addiction to opioids is extremely low." But I'm no expert on pain. I'm just a "really really bad journalist" so maybe I heard this wrong. I encourage the U.S. Senate Finance Committee members to view these videos presented by Dr. Fine - and in particular Video #11.
#11 - Medications - Opioids
In addition, my role in the Anna Nicole Smith case was as an expert testifying solely with regard to the accused physician’s role in her care that preceded her death by at least 6 months. She died of a combination of sepsis from injecting drugs to induce weight loss combined with chloral hydrate, an antiquated and relatively dangerous sleep-inducing drug, the same drug that Marilyn Monroe overdosed on. Neither were prescribed by the accused doctor in this case. The quote about numbers of pills is contextually meaningless in the way it is presented in this blatantly libelous article.
During the trial, Dr.Fine said he believed Smith had a "high tolerance for drugs" but was "not addicted." "She woke up and functioned from day to day," Fine said. "She was in recovery from rib fractures, and anyone's function would be highly limited."
Ms. Smith taking 1,500 pills, opioids, painkillers call it what you will is not "contextually meaningless" -- it is a killer and defies any reasonable person disputing this fact. But then I'm not under Senate investigation and I will leave that decision making to the Senate. I'm no expert on anyone having a "high tolerance for drugs", but I do know we are crippled in every state with addiction and death due to the push for painkillers. Will wait it out to see if those as "uneducated about pain" feel as strongly as I do about the loss of life to addiction and death -- and who should be held accountable.
Lastly, Ms. Skolek reveals her disinterest in clinical/scientific accuracy and deprives her readership of important knowledge by not only scoffing at but calling the critically important insights from the neurosciences over the last decade “criminal”.
Perhaps she and her readership might benefit from her doing a lot more reading and a little less writing.
I can only hope and pray that you will exercise your authority to take appropriate corrective action with regard to the content of the article and Ms. Skolek’s failure to measure up to an even minimal level of journalistic professionalism, and respect the rights of your readership to high quality factual reporting.
I and the families dealing with this prescription drug epidemic hope and pray every day that the U.S. Senate investigates exactly what I have been writing about for years -- ties to the billions of dollars pharma earns by pushing opioids -- and the physicians and pain societies profiting by using propaganda such as pain not being classified as a symptom but rather a disease to fuel the prescription drug epidemic.
Perry G. Fine, MD
Professor of Anesthesiology
Pain Research Center
School of Medicine
University of Utah
Immediate Past President, American Academy of Pain Medicine
So if I am guilty of "really really bad journalism", I apologize -- but to the tens of thousands of people who pray that their loved ones wake up every morning -- or find a rehab facility to treat their addiction. I do not and will not apologize to doctors, pharmaceutical companies and pain societies who encourage the medical profession to prescribe dangerous drugs and minimize the consequences to these actions. If I used the word "criminal" in the wrong context, again I apologize. Unfortunately I couldn't come up with another word stronger than "criminal." After all I'm no expert on pain -- I thought anyone prescribed 1,500 pain pills/opioids/narcotics a month was addicted. Having been accused of "really really bad journalism" and learning so much from Dr. Fine's email to my boss -- I can only hope the Senate Finance Committee learns as much as I did.
Dr. Fine was quoted on Purdue Pharma's "In the Face of Pain" website as saying “Advances in neurobiology over the last decade have taught us that acute and persistent pain-inducing events can transform the nervous system, leading to chronic pain states. The challenge before us now is to figure out how to prevent and reverse these pathological processes. Meanwhile, all clinicians who treat people living with chronic pain need to revise their classically taught view that pain is merely a symptom of some other underlying condition in order to accommodate the current science that increasingly suggests that the panoply of chronic pain conditions resemble disease states in and of themselves. More than ever, these scientific discoveries–coupled with the prevalence and impact of chronic pain–call for far greater attention to basic and clinical research and renovations in systems of care to improve treatment outcomes.”
LP -- I have never been as proud of you as I was on Thursday night -- the high road always leads us to where we are meant to be and led us to each other -- I am so thankful to be loved by you.
Last week's article in Salem-News.com http://www.salem-news.com/
Investigative Reporter for Salem-News.com
Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma - a criminally convicted pharmaceutical company
Salem-News.com Investigative Reporter Marianne Skolek, is an Activist for Victims of OxyContin and Purdue Pharma throughout the United States and Canada. In July 2007, she testified against Purdue Pharma in Federal Court in Virginia at the sentencing of their three CEO's - Michael Friedman, Howard Udell and Paul Goldenheim - who pleaded guilty to charges of marketing OxyContin as less likely to be addictive or abused to physicians and patients. She also testified against Purdue Pharma at a Judiciary Hearing of the U.S. Senate in July 2007. Marianne works with government agencies and private attorneys in having a voice for her daughter Jill, who died in 2002 after being prescribed OxyContin, as well as the voice for scores of victims of OxyContin. She has been involved in her work for the past 8-1/2 years and is currently working on a book that exposes Purdue Pharma for their continued criminal marketing of OxyContin.
Marianne is a nurse having graduated in 1991 as president of her graduating class. She also has a Paralegal certification. Marianne served on a Community Service Board for the Courier News, a Gannet newspaper in NJ writing articles predominantly regarding AIDS patients and their emotional issues. She was awarded a Community Service Award in 1993 by the Hunterdon County, NJ HIV/AIDS Task Force in recognition of and appreciation for the donated time, energy and love in facilitating a Support Group for persons with HIV/AIDS.
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