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Apr-22-2011 12:16printcomments

University of Wisconsin Ethics Violation or Criminal Activity in Pain Studies

Another day on Purdue Pharma's dusty and dirty money trail.

Aaron Gilson and David Joranson
Aaron Gilson and David Joranson have good reason to smile.

(MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.) - In 2006, researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted a study of narcotic pain medication abuse citing a 500% increase in the amount of narcotic prescriptions written by physicians.

At the same time, two "researchers" from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health (UW) went public and warned against increasing regulation of pain medications.

The University of Wisconsin Pain & Policy Studies Group did not think it necessary to divulge that they were on the take from the pharmaceutical industry -- in particular, Purdue Pharma, maker of OxyContin to the tune of approximately $2.5 million to "push" narcotics.

There are two individuals who work at the University of Wisconsin Pain Group who are interesting characters to say the least -- Aaron Gilson and David Joranson. They both have been financially rewarded by pharma working in the capacity of speakers or consultants. Gilson has a PhD in social welfare and Joranson has a master's degree in social work. Calling themselves "scientists" -- and distinguished at that -- is quite a stretch of credibility and truth -- may be a reason why Joranson recently resigned from his position with the University of Wisconsin Pain Group although he still participates in special projects.

David Joranson-

Several years ago, I was curious about Joranson's ties to Purdue Pharma and J. David Haddox, MD who I have referred to as the "gatekeeper" at Purdue Pharma. Years ago Haddox successfully coined a word "pseudo-addiction" to convince the medical profession that in most cases their patients were not addicted to opioids, i.e. the OxyContin's of the world -- it was, in fact, a "pseudo-addiction." (See link below noting there was only one case study conducted). Many in the medical field bought into Haddox's coined word and a few years later he went to work for Purdue Pharma and was instrumental in the company making billions of dollars while every state was dealing with addiction, death and abuse as a result of the false marketing of OxyContin.

Back in 1996, Joranson was vice chairman and co-author of a committee that issued a consensus statement from the American Pain Society and the American Academy of Pain Medicine. The statement suggested that opioids were safe and effective for chronic, noncancer pain and that the risk of addiction was low. Haddox also had a major part in the writing of this consensus statement. See link below for copy of consensus statement.

Purdue Pharma's Haddox recently said it was "very jaundiced" to think Purdue Pharma was giving the UW Pain Group money to take positions that would allow the company to sell more of its drugs.

"While their work may have helped increase sales of Purdue Pharma drugs, that was not the intent of the funding", Haddox said. "They are trying to promote balanced access to pain care, including the use of opioids," he said. "We believe in the work they are doing."

Aaron Gilson -

Not only has the UW Pain Group hauled in pharmaceutical industry money, but on more than a dozen occasions over about 10 years, Joranson and Gilson were paid by drugmakers or organizations connected with them to give talks, author papers, or to work in other capacities.

A few years ago, I called the University of Wisconsin to talk with Joranson and ask about his connection to Haddox. A secretary answered his phone saying "Dr. Joranson's office". I challenged her. "I thought it was Mr. Joranson -- not Dr. Joranson." After all a Masters degree in social work does not qualify for the use of the word "doctor." Her reply was -- "No he is not a doctor, but he's so smart -- we call him doctor." I was stunned by the obvious deceit and never did talk with Joranson. Now years later, I realize the deceit has gone even further than Joranson's title -- it is criminal.

Andrew Kolodny, MD, an expert on opioid addiction, was quoted as saying "They advocate for policies that benefit pharmaceutical companies and harm pain patients and the public health” about the University of Wisconsin Pain Group. Kolodny is Chairman of Psychiatry at the Maimonides Medical Center in New York and further stated "Their efforts helped create a climate that vastly expanded unproven medical use of the often-abused drugs."

Between 1999 and 2010, Purdue paid the UW Pain Group about $1.6 million, according to university records obtained by the Journal Sentinel in Milwaukee, Wisconsin through an open records request.

June L. Dahl, PhD, Professor of Department of Pharmacology, University of Wisconsin Medical School was quoted as saying “You will encounter health care professionals who are resistant to the fact that there are now standards for pain management that accredited health care facilities have to meet -- we have to help them understand why it’s so important to have standards.” And that's just what the University of Wisconsin has accomplished with the help of the million plus dollars Purdue Pharma has given them -- they have written standards of care in the treatment of pain for medical facilities in every state to refer to. If the standard of care is not followed, Medicare and Medicaid payments to a medical facility will be denied.

So Dr. Joranson -- sorry I mean Mr. Joranson -- distinguished scientist -- sorry again -- meant to say social worker. How is that $1.6 million from Purdue Pharma working out for you? Feel any culpability in the OxyContin epidemic we have in every state in the country in addiction and death? Probably not -- you would need to have a conscience and be familiar with the meaning of the word "ethical" to feel guilty and responsible.

_________________________________ 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.

Marianne Skolek
National Activist for Victims of OxyContin and
Purdue Pharma - a criminally convicted pharmaceutical company
Staff Correspondent,

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