Here’s another take-down of the CDC’s corrupt counting:
Here’s the title of an opinion piece in the April issue of the American Journal of Public Health, which was published by four authors at the CDC: “Quantifying the Epidemic of Prescription Opioid Overdose Death“
(See previous post: CDC Over-Counting Rx Opioid Overdose Deaths)
I don’t like the title very much. It (intentionally, no doubt) says approximately zero about what contained within the article, which is mighty revealing.
Then it gets downright hilarious. Check out this disclaimer. It’s a real beauty”
“Note. The findings and conclusions of this editorial are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”
Really? So if I have this right four people working for the CDC are allowed to write an opinion piece without any fear of jeopardizing their jobs.
let’s take a look at what’s really in what is, in fact, a pathetic mea culpa, with a side order of stealth.
Halfway through the first sentence, it is clear that these guys are repeating the same old crap:
“In 2016, 63,632 persons died of a drug overdose in the United States; 66.4% (42,249) involved an opioid.”
First, the authors state that there are (at least) two ways to count opioid deaths. And the CDC has been doing it wrong.
Traditionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and others have included synthetic opioid deaths in estimates of “prescription” opioid deaths.
However, with [fentanyl] likely being involved more recently, estimating prescription opioid–involved deaths with the inclusion of synthetic opioid– involved deaths could significantly inflate estimates.
It doesn’t take long to find data in the article that makes the CDC and its flunkies look pretty bad. Let’s start with Table 1.
Table 1. (Left) A “new” method of categorizing opioid OD deaths includes only prescription drugs. (Center) The previous method included heroin and fentanyl, which automatically skewed the statistics. (Right) Deaths from illicit fentanyl. Modified from American Journal of Public Health (AJPH)April 2018
The center column (green circle and arrow) represents the “traditional” method that the CDC used to count deaths. Note that the number doubled between 2013 and 2016.
The other columns tell us why.
The left column (blue) represents the number of deaths when the “conservative definition” (make that “correct definition”) is used. The data in this column no longer includes deaths from “fentanyl” (“fentanyl” in this instance meaning illicit fentanyl and its analogs – synthesized in Chinese labs, not pharmaceutical fentanyl).
Once “fentanyl” (red column) is removed from a category in which it should never have been in in the first place, all of a sudden, the number of deaths drops by half.
That little “a” has a big meaning. This “a” explains why fentanyl is erroneously lumped in with the others.
a: “Natural opioids include morphine and codeine, and semisynthetic opioids include drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, and oxymorphone.
Methadone is a synthetic opioid. Synthetic opioids, other than methadone, include drugs such as tramadol and fentanyl.”
WHERE IS HEROIN?
It is a bit baffling that heroin is not mentioned in footnote a. Especially since CDC data show that there were 15,469 opioid overdose deaths in 2016 (3).
It is safe to assume that heroin was included in the data in the center column even though it was not specifically mentioned.
It is not clear whether this omission is intentional or an oversight.
Considering how much policy has been based on these invalid numbers, it seems they would have been revised if they looked “wrong” to those in power,
But, since this arrangement of data suited the anti-opioid crusaders, they kept this artificial categorization.
That means there are only 2 possibilities:
- the CDC is deliberately obfuscating critical data
- the CDC is incredibly stupid
I would guess it’s a mix of the two, along with the usual corruption of powerful individuals.
REDOING THE MATH
Now that we know that the 42,249 deaths that “involved an opioid” do not represent pain pills. If illicit fentanyl and heroin deaths are separated from the fake number we get a new number which is very different (4).
THE BIG LIE
The title of the middle column on Table 1 seems innocent enough: “Natural and Semi-Synthetic Opioids, Methadone and Other Synthetic Opioids.” But it is not.
There is a nasty trick buried in a seemingly innocent definition:
a false and scientifically absurd distinction between synthetic, semisynthetic (synthesized from a naturally occurring opioid) and naturally occurring opioids.
This system of classifying opioids places fentanyl in the first group, heroin in the second, and morphine in the third. Ridiculous. Opioids should be classified either as pharmaceutical (legal) or non-pharmaceutical (illicit) or by their potency.
The CDC’s persistent categorization of opioids by whether they are natural or synthetic has always seemed meaningless to me.
I doubt it’s a coincidence that the CDC uses these irrelevant categories to muddle the necessary categorization of prescription versus non-prescription opioids.
This whole opioid crisis is about that division, yet the CDC keeps using these nonsensical categories.
Can this absurdity be anything other than deliberate deception?
This false classification would seem to be no more than a trick. By combining legally prescribed opioids with street drugs the CDC has generated phony data that supports its doctrine – that prescription medications are killing people en masse. They are not. Once the fallacy falls away things look quite different (Table 2).
Thank you for saying what I’ve been saying since this started. The CDC sure looks guilty of collusion with PROP to expand the market for their “addiction-recovery programs” by branding every pain patient who takes opioids as an addict.
Especially with the aging of America, their market would grow exponentially as we age and inevitably develop more pain. We live far longer than our bodies last, so we have to use what aids we can to remain functional – and this includes opioids in many cases.
Fentanyl deaths have shot up more than 6-fold in three years while deaths from oxycodone, codeine, morphine, etc. have risen by 18%.
That is a very different scenario than what the CDC has maintained and the press has parroted. Yet we continue to battle pills while the real killer isn’t pills, it’s heroin and illicit fentanyl and fentanyl analogs, most of which are far worse than fentanyl itself.
Drs. Michael Schatman and Stephen Ziegler also addressed the CDC lies in their 2017 piece in the Journal of Pain Research entitled “Pain management, prescription opioid mortality, and the CDC: is the devil in the data?”
It should be entirely clear that pain patients who use these painkillers correctly and responsibly are not the people who are dying from overdoses.
But they are dying – slowly – from having to live in misery that we wouldn’t allow for our pets as the medicines they need to (barely) function are being forcibly taken away.
Original article: The CDC Quietly Admits It Screwed Up Counting Opioid Pills