June 19, 2019: “Today, the WHO has acknowledged the danger posed by its 2011 guidance and 2012 guidelines and has committed to removing them from circulation. This is a victory for those suffering from substance use disorder, their families, and the health of our global community.
“We were encouraged by the WHO’s actions today and its acknowledgement that prescription opioids carry inherent risks such as dependence, overdose, and death. But its claim that scientific evidence did not point to these risks at the time these guidelines were published is simply inaccurate, and the WHO needs to recognize this. As our report makes clear, it was the opioid industry, not scientific evidence, that drove the content of these publications. The WHO has stated that it now has guardrails in place to protect against this situation, but it must fully investigate the circumstances that led to the publication of their dangerous opioid prescribing recommendations and make public those conclusions and the protections it will put in place. Most importantly, the WHO must recommit to advocating only for evidence based best practices that promote the health and safety of our global community.
“We remain concerned about the efforts of Mundipharma and other opioid manufacturers to promote the medically unnecessary use of opioids, especially in developing nations. We will continue to monitor the WHO’s future recommendations, especially as they relate to making a clear distinction between managing acute and chronic pain.”
In May 2019, Congresswoman Clark and Congressman Hal Rogers released a report outlining conflicts of interest between the World Health Organization (WHO) and Purdue Pharma and the opioid industry evidenced by the information contained in their 2011 and 2012 guidelines.
The attached documents were released today by the WHO in response to the report.
The May report is available online as is the letter to the World Health Organization.