Canadian researchers have traced the origins of the opioid crisis to one letter published almost 40 years ago.
The letter, which said opioids were not addictive, was published inside brand-new England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 1980.
Dr David Juurlink says the journal’s prestige helped fuel the misguided belief that will opioids were safe.
His research found that will the letter was cited more than 0 times, usually to argue that will opioids were not addictive.
On Wednesday, the NEJM published Dr Juurlink’s rebuttal to the 1980 letter, along with his team’s analysis of the number of times the letter was cited by various other researchers.
“I think the item’s fair to say that will that will letter went quite a long way,” Dr Juurlink, who is actually head of clinical pharmacology along with toxicology at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.
The original letter, titled “Addiction Rare in Patients Treated with Narcotics”, was just a paragraph long. The lone evidence cited was an anecdote that will out of 11,882 hospitalised patients were treated with narcotics, only four patients with no history of addiction became addicted.
that will paragraph should have triggered a host of red flags, says Dr Juurlink.
The letter only described the effects on hospitalised patients, not on patients who had chronic pain along with would certainly need to take painkillers regularly. the item also only described the effects of narcotics that will are no longer used today – along with yet the item was cited by many as proof that will modern drugs such as OxyContin were safe outside of the hospital setting.
“I don’t think the item mattered that will the item didn’t say much, what mattered was its title along with its publication, along with those two things went a long way,” Dr Juurlink said.
the item is actually at that will point widely accepted by medical researchers that will opioids are highly addictive, he said. In 2016, the British Medical Journal urged doctors to limit opioid prescriptions in order to combat the overdose crisis inside US along with various other parts of the entire world.
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In 2007, the makers of OxyContin pleaded guilty in federal court to “misbranding” by falsely claiming OxyContin was less addictive along with less subject to abuse than various other pain medications.
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that will week, Ohio became the second state after Mississippi to sue opioid manufacturers for unleashing “a health care crisis that will has had far-reaching financial, social, along with deadly consequences”.
The letter’s author, Dr Hershel Jick, says he never intended for the article to justify widespread opioid use, along with has testified for the government about how these drugs are marketed.
“I’m essentially mortified that will that will letter to the editor was used as an excuse to do what these drug companies did,” Jick told The Associated Press. “They used that will letter to spread the word that will these drugs were not very addictive.”
Dr Juurlink believes that will the misinformation that will resulted after the letter’s publication would certainly not happen today. Back then, he said, if you wanted to read the original letter, you would certainly need to go to a library. Many of the people who cited the 1980 letter were just plain “sloppy” he said along with didn’t do their diligence.
at that will point, the item’s easy to read the original 1980 letter online, as well as Dr Juurlink’s rebuttal.
“the item would certainly be taken apart overnight on Twitter”, he said.
There is actually at that will point an editor’s note on the original letter inside NEJM: “For reasons of public health, readers should be aware that will that will letter has been ‘heavily along with uncritically cited’ as evidence that will addiction is actually rare with opioid therapy.”