Industry Responds to BBC Radio 4 Opioid Investigation Program

May 16, 2019
Pharmaceutical Technology Editors

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has issued a response to the recently aired BBC Radio 4 investigation program on opioids.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry has issued a response in a May 14, 2019 press statement to the recently aired BBC Radio 4 investigation program on opioids.

Anna Cavell, the “File on Four” reporter, examined the reasons behind the increase in prescriptions of opioids within the United Kingdom. Although, according to Cavell’s investigations, there is a lack of evidence of the powerful painkillers’ efficacy in the long-term. 

The investigation looked at whether there were similarities in the way in which opioids are marketed by pharma companies in the UK and the United States. Allegations were raised within the program that misleading information on clinical trials were published during the early 2000s.

In response, Dr. Sheuli Porkess, executive director of research, medical & innovation at the ABPI said, “As we have not been made privy to the studies being referred to [in the report], it is impossible to understand how the information was used. Today 93% of industry trials are published, which means they are available to be scrutinized, reviewed, and guidance can be updated continuously by UK regulators.

“Opioids have played-and continue to play-an important role in the management of severe pain, where alternative treatments are not suitable, but any decision to prescribe opioids should be taken between a doctor and a patient with the benefits and risks clearly explained, including the risks of dependency.

“In the UK, we have strict rules around the marketing of medicines. If anyone has any concerns about the way that opioids are marketed, they should contact the PMCPA[Prescription Medicines Code of Practice Authority].”

Sources: ABPIFile on Four