PROP Keeps Lying About Opioids - This Time They Got Caught

By Josh Bloom — Jul 05, 2022
If there's any reason to doubt the veracity of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP) there is now more. The group lied about the results of a June debate on the cause of the opioid crisis. We caught it.
Photo Credit: Piotr Siedlecki , Public Domain Pictures

As I wrote recently, I attended a debate at the SoHo Forum in New York in which Dr. Jeffrey Singer, a practicing surgeon (and ACSH advisor), and Dr. Adriane Fugh-Berman, a member of the anti-opioid group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), which I have criticized multiple times for their unfamiliarity with the truth. In fact, Fugh-Berman either lied to my face or displayed her ignorance during the question and answer period when she dodged my question about her over-exaggeration of the number of overdose deaths from prescription opioid drugs. Following her "answer" she added the following:

"And we'll also point out that the American Council on Science and Health is very heavily industry-funded." 

My written response (See A Surgeon And A Non-Practicing Anti-Opioid Zealot Walk Into A Bar: The Singer Fugh-Berman Debate) pointed out that her claim was ridiculous and all our financials were disclosed (public record) in our 990 Form, which we must file every year. Our total industry contribution for 2021 totaled $23,000 – about 1.8% of our total revenue (1), which prompted me to wonder: "Is [Fugh-Berman] lying or merely ignorant?"

Either way, Fugh-Berman is a hypocrite, criticizing us for being an industry front while she made $120,000 – more than five times our total – by charging $500 per hour as an expert witness for California's Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who was suing Johnson & Johnson for an allegedly defective pelvic mesh. 

Lies or Ignorance?

Since I do not know what Dr. Fugh-Berman did or did not know about ACSH, let's give her the benefit of the doubt and concede that she was ignorant and made her claim by mistake. 

This makes a recent item on the PROP website even more intriguing. PROP claims that it won the debate with Dr. Singer. This is a flat-out lie.

Source: Support PROP

In deciding between ignorance and dishonesty it is difficult to believe the former since it takes approximately five seconds to find the following on the SoHo Forum site (2)


Original source: SoHo Forum

Yet, PROP proclaimed Fugh-Berman the "winner," which is, let's just say, not entirely accurate.

This morning I spoke with Gene Epstein, the Founder, and Director of the SoHo Forum about the PROP claim. He was displeased:

The statement on the PROP site gets the facts reversed. Their statement claims that Fugh-Berman got 45.3% of the vote [in favor of the debate proposition] while Singer got 39.5% [against]. Those numbers are the exact opposite.

Gene Epstein, Director of the SoHo Forum, Private Communication, July 5, 2022

Some questions to consider:

  • If PROP is lying about debate results what else are they lying about? And why?
  • Why does PROP dismiss ACSH as an industry front when their members are making small fortunes as self-proclaimed experts testifying against the drug companies? (Andrew Kolodny, the current president of PROP made about $500,000 ($725 per hour) testifying for the state of Oklahoma in a suit against Johnson & Johnson for the company's alleged role in "creating a public nuisance".)
  • Is it possible that the driving force behind PROP's militant anti-opioid stance is self-enrichment?
  • Based on their mangling of the debate results, is PROP dishonest or merely stupid?
  • Either way, why does this group have such an oversized role in determining America's disastrous opioid policy?

Of course, there are many more questions, especially from those of you who have been involuntarily cut off from the pain medications that keep you functioning. Perhaps you want to join PROP and ask them yourself. Just don't expect an honest answer.

In case you don't believe Epstein or me, feel free to watch the last two minutes of the debate when the results were announced. It's on YouTube.

Update: 7/5 6:00 PM. PROP has apparently taken down their ridiculous article after they were contacted by [name withheld] earlier today:

"This is very embarrassing to have to point out but it seems you switched the results, giving Dr. Singer's higher score of 45.35% to Dr. Fugh-Berman and her lower score of 39.53% to him. Correcting this factual error completely defeats your claim she won. You no doubt will want to correct or delete this very misleading post."

And some advice for my dear friends at PROP: By all means, keep on questioning the ethics of ACSH. How's that working out?



(1) We also collected an "immense sum of $32,600 from trade associations, in case that makes any difference.

(2) The SoHo event was an Oxford Style Debate, where the audience is polled before and after the debate. The winner is decided by which debater changed the most minds with their argument. You can see from the figure above that it was dead even, both Singer and Fugh-Berman changing the opinions of 8.14% of those who voted. There is no way PROP can claim victory regardless of which number is used. 



Josh Bloom

Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science

Dr. Josh Bloom, the Director of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Science, comes from the world of drug discovery, where he did research for more than 20 years. He holds a Ph.D. in chemistry.

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