The American Pain Society (APS) announced it is ceasing operations on Friday after responding to multiple lawsuits claiming its policies contributed to the opioid crisis. The group has been “named a defendant in numerous spurious lawsuits related to opioid prescribing and abuse. The organization’s financial health has deteriorated as a result of the litigation” and “resources are being diverted to paying staff to comply with subpoenas and other requests for information and for payment of legal fees instead of funding research grants, sponsoring pain education programs, and public policy advocacy,” APS President William Maixner, DDS, PhD, said.
Since the APS has benefited from significant financial support from the opioid manufacturers for years, the APS has been accused of acting as “front groups” for these manufacturers, creating a reasonable argument of culpability. Several of the former and present leaders of the APS have voiced their concerns that this is a critical time in American history when groups such as the APS are needed to advocate for research and to fight the opioid crisis. APS President-elect Gary Walco, PhD, noted that a “professional organization best poised to provide the spectrum of science to improve the prevention and treatment of pain and related substance abuse.”
Roger Fillingim, PhD, an APS past president and professor of psychology, University of Florida School of Dentistry, said the “APS has been advocating for increased investment in research for many years, and it is particularly ironic that APS’s voice will go silent at this critical time in our history, when increased investment in pain research has finally become a reality in an effort to combat the opioid crisis.”
APS President-elect Gary Walco, PhD, also noted the irony that a “professional organization best poised to provide the spectrum of science to improve the prevention and treatment of pain and related substance abuse is defunct.” He spoke further stating, “Now, more than ever, our nation needs the collective efforts of leading scientists and clinicians who hold patients’ well-being at the highest premium. The principal focus on punishing those in industry that may have contributed to the problem is shortsighted and far from sufficient.”
I don’t know, holding those responsible for participating in and benefiting from a nationwide scam and cover-up of the known risks associated with opioid pain medications doesn’t sound all that shortsighted. Who’s next on the hit list? It should never include those of us simply trying to address our patients’ pain.