Update on the Senate Investigation of the FSMB

This is an update on my question to U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley about an alleged ongoing U.S. Senate Finance Committee investigation of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) for conflicts of interest surrounding drug company funding of Dr. Scott Fishman’s book “Responsible Opioid Prescribing: A Clinician’s Guide.”

I published a post about this in early June, What is Happening to the Profession I Love? – The Practical Psychosomaticist. The whole thing got started with a reader’s comments on my post on April 19, 2013 about a buprenorphine training course, Physicians’ Clinical Support System-Buprenorphine Class in Iowa! – The Practical Psychosomaticist.

Senator Grassley was kind enough to reply,  just got back to me and there is, in fact, an ongoing investigation of the FSMB. He enclosed a copy of the letter he and Senator Max Baucus sent to the FSMB with the facts about the epidemic of opioid misuse and the deaths, loss productivity, and costs of law enforcement associated with it. There were several pointed questions including those about financial transactions between non-profit organizations and drug companies that “…develop, manufacture, produce, market, or promote the use of opioid-based drugs from 1997 to present.” This letter is in the public record, Senate Finance Committee Reacts to Reports of Opioid Abuse and Conflict of Interests: Letters to Manufactures and Organizations – Policy and Medicine.

There were several questions about the revenue generated by the sales and FSMB personnel involved in the distribution of the book “Responsible Opioid Prescribing” by Dr. Fishman. This made me cringe because I have promoted the book on my blog site. However, I have not found anything in the new edition of the book’s content which would make me suspect that the author was biased in favor of any pharmaceutical company.

Could the ongoing investigation be relevant to the Maintenance of Licensure (MOL) issue, which the FSMB promotes? Both Maintenance of Certification (MOC) and MOL have been linked to large sums of money going to so-called non-profit boards including the FSMB, Change Board Recertification Form 990 Income Tax Returns.

Of course this is only my opinion, but both issues could be all about money. I don’t know if the Senate will ever find a money trail leading from opioid manufacturers back to the FSMB. Even if the Senate investigation reveals no evidence that the FSMB did anything wrong, how can the suspicion aroused be allayed? And why would the American Medical Association want to be associated with the FSMB amid all of this suspicion?

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