It’s a bad day when the federal health minister wants to check your work. But that’s what’s happening to a McMaster University committee that was assigned to develop new opioid-prescribing guidelines for Canada’s doctors.

The rules from Health Canada were clear when it awarded the half-million-dollar grant to McMaster’s Michael G. DeGroote National Pain Centre in 2015: No one with any ties to big pharma could be allowed to vote on the final draft of the guidelines, which were intended to help doctors make difficult decisions about opioid use for chronic non-cancer pain.

As the hand-picked experts sat around the table arguing about when doctors should prescribe the dangerous pills, everyone in the room assumed everyone else in the room was free of industry ties.

But the truth was revealed earlier this month, when the guidelines were finally published.

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