The Press: Incorrect Medical Information, Dire Consequences! | American Council on Science and Health –By Wolfgang Vogel — Oct 2019
Reporters and editors have the duty to inform the public about current events. In fulfilling this duty, every journalist must follow the journalistic code of ethics; reports must be based on proven facts or when personal opinions are used they must be clearly be labeled as such.
Sometimes we don’t even realize the difference between something we have knowledge of and something we only believe. More than once in my life, things I thought I “knew” turned out to be more assumptions or opinions rather than facts.
The press is a major tool in informing the public and in shaping public opinions.
Any true journalist wouldn’t just repeat what everyone else is saying and assume it’s the whole truth. They would do some research of their own to verify the general narrative out there for themselves.
Lately, the integrity of the press has been questioned; many reports are either slanted or downright false in order to sway public opinion in the intended direction.
Focusing on the opioid crisis, articles often did and still do contain misleading statements, half-truths and sometimes completely false information.
gives the public a slanted picture of the true causes of the opioid crisis, stigmatizes patients, and has led government officials to enact damaging regulations and laws. So let us look at a few examples.
Reports on the opioid crisis typically focus foremost on the drug abuser and the many deaths conveying the impression that these opioid drugs are indeed “evil.”
However, it is seldom if ever mentioned that these drugs have been exceedingly helpful to millions upon millions of acute and chronic pain patients who have used them properly without experiencing significant ill effects, let alone, deaths.
Instead, reports constantly label these drugs as “highly addictive”.
Scientific studies have come to similar conclusions; that the chance of an adult acute or chronic pain patient becoming addicted is less than 1%.
Compared to alcohol and nicotine with an abuse potential of about 5%, these drugs are addictive but certainly do not deserve to be labeled highly addictive.
There is additional misleading information commonly reported – that these drugs are also frequently described so glibly as being deadly citing all the drug-related overdose deaths.
more than 100 million legitimate pain patients have used these drugs without the occurrence of any significant numbers of adverse reactions or drug-related deaths; these patients used the drugs as indicated.
These include all the millions of people who have surgeries and are prescribed opioids while they are healing. The number of surgeries in the US is in the millions, and only very few, maybe 1% became addicted for decades and decades.
In contrast, opioid related drug deaths are not caused by the use of these drugs per se but by their inappropriate uses.
Another fallacy – physicians are blamed for writing too many prescriptions which fueled the opioid crisis. This fallacy is based on older studies.
Perhaps physicians have overprescribed but this did not lead to the crisis as evidenced by the extremely low number of pain patients who became addicted.
While it is true that pharmaceutical companies promoted their drugs aggressively – as do all companies with their products – can they be held responsible for the deaths involving their drugs?
If a drunk driver causes an accident – we rightfully blame the driver.
If a drug abuser uses a drug contrary to directions and warnings and dies – reports blame the company but not the user.
Does this make sense?
Looking into the future, a company would be stupid to manufacture and sell these drugs again– and the vast majority of us will then suffer unnecessary pain and might die a painful death.
Higher doses prescribed do not necessarily mean that patients consume higher amounts of drugs
So instead of taking a 20mg oxycodone pill 4 times a day, a patient could be taking one 80mg extended-release tablet that lasts all day. To me, it seems far harder to keep track of 4 doses a day than just a single one, yet PROP wants to ban such useful high-dose pills.
Furthermore, one reporter in a headline of the article called Oxycontin, a slow release preparation, more addiction prone than earlier immediate release tablets. Again, this is completely wrong. Immediate release tablets cause high spikes in drug blood levels which results in more intense euphoric feelings.
I’m beginning to feel downright cheated! I keep hearing about the euphoria experienced by taking opioids. In the 25 years I’ve taken daily opioid pain medications, I’ve never felt that euphoria – and neither have any other of the dozens of pain patients I’ve heard from.
My skepticism was recently confirmed by a study: Most People Don’t Feel Euphoric From Opioids
even worse is that every time I have contacted the editors of newspapers to inform him/her of such mistakes and offered a correction – there has been no reply and no correction.
The editors let the misinformation persist and uninformed readers continued to have a false or misleading picture.
News should not only be accurate but if mistakes occur they must be corrected.
The news is partially to blame for the general public to have a slanted and often false picture of the current opioid epidemic. But it is mostly to blame for unjustifiably stigmatizing physicians and have lawmakers enact laws which do not help the crisis but actually are hurting thousands and perhaps millions of legitimate patients not to get their unrestricted pain relief.
its not just the press. we had the DA speak to our political group he was taling about the “opioid crisis” he related story of person injured self, put on opioids and next thing you knew addiction, then died. I raised hand. reminded him that studies show we rarely become addicted and please stop ignoring chroniuc pain patients who are being hurt by these stories and please include the info when you speak about those in chrinic pain being hurt because of the falsity of the addiction sticker attached to them. He siad oh yes. you and I have spoken about this thanks for reminding me. Then he started to t ell another anecdote. Kid hurt self, put on opioids, became addicted then died. Truth doent matter when you can tell a oh my goodness how horrible story.
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It seems this “addiction story” has become a cultural meme and taken on a life of its own. People just keep repeating this bs, assuming it must be true because everyone “knows” it. They are just sheep bleating reflexively. It would be a joke if so many lives weren’t hanging in the balance.
have t admit when I was invited to an opioid panel taskforce the mother of one of the teens the DA mentioned was also there. It was her child who got addicted and then overdosed. Strange thing We were all told in 2 mths we would have another meeting and i never heard one more word. asked about it and told well there will be a townhall sometime in the future so dont know if the “taskforce” just stopped or they did not want a rep for chornicv pain patients to be a part of it (hope thats paranoia and not the reality
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How odd… so many people are finding so many jobs and so much money attacking opioids and those who take them for any reason.
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It is too late to put the genie back in the bottle. it looks like the lies about opioids have backfired, with even more kids stealing them from medicine chests. Mass media lied about and sensationalized basic health information. Across the Internet health information is a marketing platform, and much of the information is deceptive. Even at the VA, and civilian health clinics, clinical directors are having a hard time, hiring people who “believe” in vaccines. Check out the people wearing medical masks, they are the ones who “Opted Out” of the flu vaccine. Their “personal choice,” is a lot more important than protecting the vulnerable sick people, who might come into the clinic. After all they bought some herbs vitamins CBD or even invested in a vitamin infusion, that was advertised as an alternative to a flue shot. The media spread enough skepticism, after all “alternative” practitioners make a lot of money from the anti vaxx myths. We used to have credible enough people in the press, and there used to be federal laws protecting us from deceptive health advertising, they are no more.
American are really scared about their health, they are under insured or uninsured, so they can be easily misled. Television, newspapers and social media companies make a lot of money advertising deceptive health claims. No physicians groups, public health “experts” or mental health experts will speak up, and the very few that do, risk their reputations. There is just so much more money available, to protect industry interests. Nobody spoke up until years later about the JUUL advertising campaign, even though they were targeting children. JUUL was really clever just like so many other heath frauds, they included a “public health statement.”
There seems to be a shift in the drug of the day lately. I’ve noticed that Meth is starting to take center stage once again in the media. This ridiculous war on drugs has never worked and will never work.
Kolodny said just the opposite about long term pain patients and the genie being out of the bottle. Apparently we know what some real relief is and don’t want to give it up.Imagine that.
Great article, now how do we get them to pay attention?
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