Tag Archives: media

A virus walks into a bar…

Packed Bars Serve Up New Rounds Of COVID Contagion | Kaiser Health News – By Jordan Rau and Elizabeth Lawrence June 25, 2020

As states ease their lockdowns, bars are emerging as fertile breeding grounds for the coronavirus.

Public health authorities have identified bars as the locus of outbreaks in Louisiana, Florida, Wyoming and Idaho.

Bars are tailor-made for the spread of the virus, with loud music and a cacophony of conversations that require raised voices. The alcohol can impede judgment about diligently following rules meant to prevent contagion.  Continue reading

Medical Tribalism in the Era of Covid-19

John Ioannidis and Medical Tribalism in the Era of Covid-19BY JEANNE LENZER & SHANNON BROWNLEE – June 2020

I’ve posted about his contrarian views several times because I think it’s a good idea to see information and opinions from reliable scientific professional sources that are different from the panic-inducing click-bait spouted endlessly by the media.

It started on March 17, when Ioannidis published an opinion essay in STAT saying that the data on Covid-19 were not sufficient to know the disease’s true prevalence and fatality rate.

Ordinarily sober-minded researchers have attacked Ioannidis’ methods with hyperbolic and emotional arguments that suggest it’s not so much his science but his questions that they dislike.  Continue reading

Misperceptions about ‘Opioid Epidemic:’ Exploring Facts

Misperceptions about the ‘Opioid Epidemic:’ Exploring the Facts – ScienceDirectPain Management Nursing – Feb 2020

Here is the full article I posted about yesterday:

A plethora of statistics and claims exist concerning the rise in prescription opioid use and the increase in opioid-related deaths.

Eleven misperceptions were identified that underlie some of the growing national concern and backlash against opioid use.

Misperceptions include

  • the number of opioid overdose deaths,
  • the quality of government-sponsored data and guidelines,
  • the impact of opioid dose escalation on overdose risk,
  • postoperative opioid use associated with long-term use, and
  • the link between prescription opioid use and heroin initiation.

Continue reading

Illicit Drug Use Not Always a Problem

Here are three articles about illicit drug use pointing out that the drugs themselves aren’t always a problem (and many also come in prescribed versions).

It is the criminalization of drug use that causes chaotic and destructive behavior and imposes such high costs on society (court system, incarceration, law enforcement).

Except for the legality, using illicit drugs is not much different than using alcohol. Some cause far less physical or social harm than alcohol and some are even less addictive, so we cannot claim “illicit drugs are bad for you”. Continue reading

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