October 11, 2018

Cassidy, McCaskill Introduce Transparency Legislation Targeting Opioid Manufacturers’ Payments to Advocacy Groups

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and Claire McCaskill (D-MO) today introduced the Opioid Advocacy Transparency Act, bipartisan legislation requiring 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 senators’ bipartisan legislation comes after a Senate report 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.

“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.

“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.”

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

Cassidy and McCaskill, both members of the bipartisan Senate health care price transparency working group, recently released draft legislation to protect patients from surprise medical bills. The draft bill is intended to jumpstart discussions in Congress about how to best stop the use of balance billing to charge patients for emergency treatment or treatment provided by an out-of-network provider at an in-network facility.