Rebuttal to “Opioids are Biggest Healthcare Problem”

Teater: Opioid problem biggest healthcare issue facing America [???]-  Nov 2018 – utter nonsense!

On the Opioid Information Thread, the member Seshet posted a brilliant rebuttal to the terribly mistaken article above:

The Cleveland Daily Banner has an article with Don Teater, MD, explaining how opioids should never be used for anything other than severe trauma or end-of-life care.

There are glaring errors in every paragraph.


“While America only has 4.6 percent of the world’s population, it consumes 80 percent of the world’s opioids.”

In fact, the U.S. consumes about 30% of the world’s opioids. mccaskill-cites-long-disproven-figure-opioid-use/

“Teater states the number of opioid addicts is directly related to the amount of opioids the doctors prescribe.”

Actually, addiction rates have been flat since 2012 but prescribing has dropped fast. And prescribing rates doubled between around 2005 and 2011, but addiction levels went from 1.7 million people to 2.1 million people. rug-overdoseepidemic.pdf

“Perhaps the biggest revelation Teater unveiled to the attendants was the more effective and nonaddictive alternative to opioids which comes in the form of an ibuprofen and acetaminophen combination.”

Not really. Acetaminophen with or without ibuprofen will not begin to help with most forms of neuropathic pain. These drugs are seen as useless for disorders like small fiber neuropathy.

“The Center for Disease Control states that opioids should only be used to treat pain for three days or less.”

Hardly. TheCDC guidelines recommended using the minimum amount possible, and give specific recommendations for how to use opioids in short-, medium-, and long-term care.

“The only times opioids should be used, according to Teater, are for severe trauma and with end-of-life scenarios.”

Ridiculous. Modern surgical care requires opioids, as does modern cancer care.
(No link because almost no one in medicine would take seriously a statement this absurd.)

There are more errors.

But more importantly, Teater gives a lot of presentations and interviews about his ideas on pain management and is involved in developing practice guidelines, too.

It’s bad enough that he says all these things, but it’s probably worse that people are listening to him.

Later in the same thread, Seshet provides us with the real numbers and causes of deaths in the U.S.

Earlier I critiqued the content of an article with Don Teater, MD. This is the article: Teater: Opioid problem biggest healthcare issue facing America”

But by many standard measures in epidemiology and public health, the opioid problem isn’t the biggest healthcare issue. Using fatalities for drugs, we have for 2017:

  • – 480,000 deaths per year from smoking
  • – 88,000 deaths per year from alcohol
  • – 72,000 deaths for all forms of drug overdose

The CDC gives this list for “leading causes of death” for 2016 (drug overdoses are folded into the larger categories of accidents and intentional self-harm here):

  • – Heart disease: 635,260
  • – Cancer: 598,038
  • – Accidents (unintentional injuries): 161,374
  • – Chronic lower respiratory diseases: 154,596
  • – Stroke (cerebrovascular diseases): 142,142
  • – Alzheimer’s disease: 116,103
  • – Diabetes: 80,058
  • – Influenza and pneumonia: 51,537
  • – Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis: 50,046
  • – Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,965


The CDC has recently emphasized that over 80,000 people died of influenza and related illness in 2017, which was a notably bad flu season.


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