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The scammers fighting CDC’s opioid guidelines

Several commenters purporting to be chronic pain patients responded to my post about the AMA’s bemoaning CDC’s opioid guidelines. 

Their stories were tragic; heartfelt; full of pain, suffering, and grief.  All decried the CDC’s guidelines as wildly misplaced, directly responsible for their terrible suffering, a governmental overreach, and a grossly misplaced intrusion of the government into the hallowed doctor-patient relationship.

Several attacked Dr Andrew Kolodny, making all kinds of ugly claims, attacking his ethics and denigrating his motivations. [Dr Kolodny is Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing.]

And all but one came from email addresses that are bogus. I know that because I emailed each of them and asked them to confirm they sent a comment to MCM.  Here’s an example of one response.

I’ve known Dr Kolodny for over a decade. We met at the first few RxSummit conferences where colleagues introduced us. He was one of the first clinicians to raise the alarm about prescription opioids, and PROP has been instrumental in helping states, the CDC, and other governmental entities address the opioid crisis. I deeply respect Dr Kolodny – his relentless effort to stop the devastation caused by opioids has saved countless lives.

I do not know who is behind these attacks on the CDC and the attempts to libel and slander Dr Kolodny. I do not know if they are the product of the Opioid Industry, another example of their insidious effort to legitimize its criminal behavior and its lethal consequences. The Opioid Industry’s tentacles take the form of organizations that sound legitimate but are just mouthpieces for Big Opioids.

Big Opioid sponsors so-called patient advocacy groups, yet another example of Astroturfing (go to p 29, about halfway down, to see a description of the practice; or just search for Astroturf).

I also wrote on this several years ago.

The Astroturfers’ clever messaging convinces some chronic pain sufferers that the solution is more opioids, and anyone who disagrees is a self-serving, uncaring profiteer who is somehow profiting from their pain.

I hate Big Opioid and the people who propagate their lies. They are killing people, devastating families and destroying communities, all in the name of profits.

They are mass murderers – nothing less.




12 thoughts on “The scammers fighting CDC’s opioid guidelines”

  1. Well said Joe. Thanks for calling out these scammers with documentation of their techniques.

    1. This is makes me angry. I have two children with PRSS1. Comments such as Mr Paduda’s claiming that individuals with concerns are ‘fake’ or ‘drug shills’ perpetuates stigma towards the many voices that have been harmed by the guidelines. My kids have. Pain care in the US is not accessible. Furthermore mindfulness is NOT going to address the pain that comes from PRSS1. As a parent, in order to improve quality of life I was encouraged to have them undergo transplants. Both had horrible complications. I also attempted injections. Both caused great harm. Opioids have provided the best quality of life. Dr. Kolodny and his group have truly said, in my opioid, some very harmful things. He also does NOT engage in any dialogue. I followed him on twitter. I asked questions, never did I attack, call names, threaten, I would never do that yet he blocked me. My kids deserve care. I am not fake. I am
      A wife who lost her husband to a horrific disease and have to watch my kids daily struggle with their illness and pain. They now have to deal with stigmatized comments from physicians that very often parrot Dr Kolodny and his group. Also, the overdose crisis he was alarmed with has increased not decreased due to his efforts.

      1. Hello Beth
        welcome to MCM, and thanks for your comment. I’m very sorry for your very difficult situation: I cannot imagine how heartbreaking it is to see your children in pain.

        By no means did I claim that real live actual human individuals with concerns are shills or fake. As I noted, all but one of the commenters used fake addresses, a common tactic used by Astroturfers. I responded courteously to the actual human commenter. I did note that some well-intended people buy into the lies spread by Big Opioid; unfortunately we’ve seen far too many people buy into falsehoods of late.

        We will have to agree to disagree re Dr Kolodny. There is no question the prescription opioid crisis has decreased due to his efforts and those of others. His efforts and those of PROP were never about preventing deaths from illicits. To claim that somehow he failed because fentanyl use has exploded is misleading at best, and character assassination at worst.

        be well – Joe

  2. Shame on you. Chronic pain patients and the addiction community have been gravely harmed by the 2016 guidelines which were based on cherry picked poor scientific evidence. The anti opiate crowd keeps on shouting that these regulations were put in place to stem the overdose crisis. Considering overdose deaths due to fentanyl are up by 1024 percent how’s that helping! All these guidelines have done is to vilify the patients who through no fault of their own ended up with horrible chronic intractable pain. Roughly 8 million stable productive citizens have been forced off their medications which were working. They were able to hold jobs, take care of their children and have quality of life. Now many have been forced to go on disability, have lost their homes and worst of all have committed suicide because no doctor will help them.

    1. Hello Laurie and welcome to MCM.
      I wholeheartedly disagree with your statement about “cherry-picked poor scientific evidence.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

      You are conflating prescription opioid abuse with illicit fentanyl, and somehow think that the CDC guidelines have something to do with fentanyl importation. That’s just not true; those are two completely different issues. One is public health based on evidence-based medicine, and the other is a law enforcement and fentanyl addiction treatment problem.

      While I agree the fentanyl problem is horrific, the rampant prescribing of opioids was as well.

      Be well, Joe

  3. I encourage you to email me back. I am a real person with a real email address and a chronic pain patient. I’d love to discuss the other side of this story with you. Opioid therapy has also SAVED countless lives that would have otherwise been lost to suicide because of untreated or undermedicated daily intractable pain. Let’s just make sure that both sides are heard.

    1. Hello Becky – thanks for the note.

      I am quite certain opioids work for some chronic pain patients. Unfortunately there’s little evidence they provide safe relief for most chronic pain patients. If you have credible research to the contrary I’m certainly interested.

      be well – Joe

  4. People ignored your email and that’s proof of astroturfing? I can go days without checking mine.
    Can you explain why the OD rate has skyrocketed as legitimate pills have been harder to get? Or why most of the countries with the most lenient drug laws have some of the lowest OD rates? Why don’t you people do anything about the American healthcare system that forces broken people back to work, or leaves them at the mercy of insurance companies that would rather numb the problem than fix it? It’s a lot easier to just call your critics drug addicts & Pharma shills.

    Looking forward to your email

    1. Hello Mark – thanks for the comment.
      Sorry, people did not “ignore my email”; the email addresses they used were fake – non existent – not real.
      Happy to explain why overdoses have increased.
      Correlation is not causation – the OD rate has nothing to do with restrictions on prescription opioids. If you read the MMWR, you will note the overdose and death rate from prescription opioids has declined since the CDC guidelines were promulgated.
      Many patients that would have died of opioid poisoning are saved by naloxone – and then overdose again, and again, until they either get clean or die. So, naloxone use has undoubtedly saved lives, while also increasing the number of overdoses.

      Instead of attacking me, perhaps you should read some of my thousands of posts that discuss the problems with the American healthcare system and my ideas for addressing them. It’s a lot easier for you to attack me than to actually determine who I am and what I stand for.

      be well – Joe

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Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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