Longtime U.S. Pain Foundation leader resigns

BY Matt Pilon

Photo | YouTube, U.S. Pain Foundation
Photo | YouTube, U.S. Pain Foundation
Paul Gileno discussed his experience with chronic pain in a YouTube video (above).
A Middletown-based foundation that advocates across the country for the rights of chronic-pain patients has parted ways with its founder and CEO.

The U.S. Pain Foundation announced May 31 that Paul Gileno resigned after its board of directors requested he do so.

Nicole Hemmenway, who chairs the board of directors and was previously listed as vice president, has been named interim CEO, while the foundation searches for a permanent replacement.

In a statement, Hemmenway said the organization is focused on the future, including upcoming events like a training program for chronic pain support group leaders in June and a Pain Awareness Month campaign in September.

A foundation spokeswoman declined to provide further information to HBJ about the departure of Gileno, who has said he suffers chronic pain from a 15-year-old back injury.

However, the U.S. Pain Foundation was among the targets of a report this year criticizing financial ties between pain advocacy groups and the pharmaceutical industry.

A February report from U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) found that 14 not-for-profit advocacy groups had received nearly $9 million from five drug companies over a period of five years. The U.S. Pain Foundation had the biggest haul, at $2.9 million, the report said.

McCaskill said the advocacy groups have lobbied to change laws aimed at curbing opioid use, and that the financial ties have led to "opioids-friendly messaging."

Following that report's publication, the U.S. Pain Foundation said it doesn't promote one type of pain treatment over another and that the bulk of its $2.9 million in industry contributions was used for a co-pay assistance program for cancer patients.

"This funding, like any funding we receive, does not influence our values," the foundation said.

According to its most recent 990 tax filing with the IRS, the Pain Foundation raked in $1.35 million in revenue in 2015. Gileno's base compensation that year was $403,901, which accounted for about 30 percent of the nonprofit's overall revenue, tax filings show.