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UN health agency to remove controversial opioid guidelines

The World Health Organization has notified U.S. lawmakers that it will discontinue two publications on prescribing opioid painkillers in response to allegations that the pharmaceutical industry influenced the reports.

The pledge to remove the guidelines comes a month after U.S. Reps. Katherine Clark and Hal Rogers accused the WHO of being influenced by Purdue Pharma, the American manufacturer of OxyContin.

The lawmakers’ report claimed the guidelines were crafted by organizations with financial ties to the company, which worked to downplay the addiction risks and overstate the benefits of opioids.

Purdue has denied the allegations.

Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, wrote to Clark and Rogers on Wednesday, saying that the guidelines would be removed in “light of new scientific evidence that has emerged.”

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