Tag Archives: media

Coronavirus: How We Misjudge Risk

Coronavirus ‘Hits All the Hot Buttons’ for How We Misjudge Risk – The New York TimesBy Max Fisher – Feb 2020

I see a striking similarity between fear of the coronavirus and fear of opioid addiction.

Like everywhere else on campus, and in much of the world, the coronavirus was all anybody could talk about. But one of the attendees, a public health student, had had enough. Exasperated, she rattled off a set of statistics.

The virus had killed about 1,100 worldwide and infected around a dozen in the United States. Alarming, but a much more common illness, influenza, kills about 400,000 people every year, including 34,200 Americans last flu season and 61,099 the year before.  

So the 80,000 flu deaths I previously cited from the 2017-2018 winter flu was unusual, but not entirely out of the norm.  Continue reading

FACTS about the Wuhan Coronavirus

A Primer on the Wuhan Coronavirus  | American Council on Science and Health by Henry Miller – Feb 2020

I’m so sick of seeing all the sensationalist coverage of the new coronavirus and found this article to get a more reasonable accounting of what’s going on with it. To me, this is just another flu or cold virus like all the others that lead to death for a small percentage of people every single year.

To put things in perspective:

2017–18 United States flu season – Wikipedia

The 2017-2018 flu season was severe for all populations and resulted in an estimated 959,000 hospitalizations and 79,400 deaths. This is the highest number of patient claims since the 2009 flu season.

Despite almost a million Americans hospitalized and almost 80,000 Americans dying, there was no panic, no sensational headlines, no rush to buy masks, or any other craziness spread by fear-mongering media. Continue reading

Even Medical Lit Subject to Media Hype about “Opioid Crisis”

Are Prescription Opioids Driving the Opioid Crisis? Assumptions vs Facts | Pain Medicine | Oxford AcademicMark Edmund Rose, BS, MA – Dec 2017

Sharp increases in opioid prescriptions, and associated increases in overdose deaths in the 2000s, evoked widespread calls to change perceptions of opioid analgesics.  Medical literature discussions of opioid analgesics began emphasizing patient and public health hazards.

Repetitive exposure to this [mis-]information may influence physician assumptions.

This is a huge problem for us, and a sad commentary on the state of medicine in the U.S. when doctors are influenced more by media-hype and biased research than their patients’ lived experiences.  Continue reading

Incorrect Medical Information has Dire Consequences

The Press: Incorrect Medical Information, Dire Consequences! | American Council on Science and HealthBy 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. Continue reading

Effect of chronic opioid therapy on pain and survival

UMN researchers study effect of chronic opioid therapy on pain and survival in sickle cell disease | EurekAlert! Science News Apr 2019

Though this article is specifically about Sickle Cell Disease, it can be applied to many other kinds of chronic pain.

New UMN research recently published Blood Advances, Kalpna Gupta, PhD, Professor of Medicine, University of Minnesota Medical School, demonstrates the impact of opioids on the survival of humanized mouse models with sickle cell disease, compared to normal mice.

Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) affects millions of people throughout the world. The genetic disease worsens over time and can cause lifelong pain.

Given the often severe nature of the pain associated with SCD opioid use is a rule not an exception for treatment.    Continue reading

The media are getting the opioid crisis all wrong

The media are getting the opioid crisis all wrong | Washingon Examiner |by Gabe Weissman | Aug 2019

Last week marked yet another ill-conceived media attack on the drug distributors.In an attempt to paint the broader industry as a group of entirely bad actors, the press has yet again taken data out of context and pushed the false narrative that distributors knowingly fueled the opioid epidemic.

In this case, the public release of the Automated Reports and Consolidated Ordering System, or ARCOS, database spanning from 2006 to 2012 demonstrated that distributors document each order of prescription opioids and share that information exclusively with the Drug Enforcement Agency. 

So, the DEA is the only agency that had data for all opioids shipped, yet they stood idly by as bizarrely large orders went to tiny rural pharmacies. I don’t understand why they aren’t being blamed for allowing such massive shipments when they had both the data and the authority to curtail them.  Continue reading

Overdoses usually involve multiple drugs

Opioid crisis? It’s more complex than that: Study shows fatalities usually involve multiple drugs – The Boston Globeby Felice J. Freyer Globe Staff – June 2019

More of the media is starting to change their “heroin pills” stories to more realistic coverage of the overdose crisis.

It may be time to stop talking about the “opioid crisis.” Not because the crisis is over — some five people a day continue to die of overdoses in Massachusetts. But a new analysis reveals that opioids are far from the only problem:

The vast majority of people who died of opioid-related overdoses in the state had taken other drugs along with heroin and fentanyl, including stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamine. Only 17 percent had taken opioids and nothing else.    Continue reading

Opioid Overreaction

Opioid OverreactionNYTimes.com – By David Leonhardt –  Mar 2019

I’m encouraged to see this very reasonable article in the New York Times, which has previously published some anti-opioid pieces of questionable accuracy. 

Some Americans suffering from chronic pain have recently lost access to medicines that helped them live normal lives.

Other patients have had to turn to invasive and dangerous treatments, like spinal injections. Continue reading

Blaming Rx Pills For Opioid Epidemic Is Fake News

Blaming Prescription Pain Pills For The Opioid Epidemic Is Fake News
How negligent media have helped inflate a deadly moral panic over prescription opioids and ignored the real sources of addiction while hurting people who live with devastating chronic pain.By Peter Pischke – March 26, 2019

Although opioid-related deaths are driven mainly by heroin and black-market fentanyl, you would not know that from most of the press coverage, which emphasizes pain medication prescribed to patients who become addicted, overdose, and die.

This narrative is “fake news.”

This is the fairytale the media has been pushing for years and years. Just by its incessant repetition, it has ingrained itself in our culture and remains stubbornly immune to facts.  Continue reading

The Other Opiate Problem

The Other Opiate Problem By Ted Noel, MD – March 2019

Dr. Noel shows us again that overprescribing isn’t the problem – it’s an “overdose crisis” from street drugs, often contaminated with deadly illicit fentanyl.

On February 24, 60 Minutes did a segment …  calling out drug companies for “corrupt,” “immoral,” and “depraved” actions in marketing opioids.

David Kessler, former Commissioner of the FDA said, “There are no studies on the safety or efficacy of opioids for long-term use.”

Case closed! We need to restrict opioids to two or three days at most. Anything longer than that is bad medicine and gets people killed. But…     Continue reading