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The Law of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again

The Law of Unintended Consequences Strikes Again

Late last week UPI news ran a report by E.J. Mundell with the headline, “Government efforts to curb opioid prescriptions might have backfired.” It cites two separate studies published online in JAMA Surgery on August 22 that examined two different restrictive opioid policies that fell victim to the Law of Unintended Consequences. The first study, by researchers at the University of Michigan, evaluated the impact of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s 2014 rescheduling of hydrocodone (Vicodin) from Schedule III to Schedule II. Prescriptions for Schedule III narcotics may be phoned or faxed...

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There Is More Than One Way to “Spin” a Stat

There Is More Than One Way to “Spin” a Stat

I recently wrote about how ideology and confirmation bias has infiltrated research into the opioid overdose issue. I spoke about how researchers can “spin” their findings to comport with the prevailing narrative and improve the likelihood of getting published in peer-reviewed journals. An example occurred yesterday, when the University of Michigan’s Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation announced, with the headline “Unwise opioids for wisdom teeth: Study shows link to long-term use in teens and young adults,” the publication of a research letter in JAMA that day by a team of its...

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The War on Opioids Has Become a War on Patients

As Anne Fuqua recently pointed out in the Washington Post, non-medical drug users accessing heroin and fentanyl in the underground drug market are not the only victims in the opioid crisis. Many patients whose only relief from a life sentence of torturing pain are also victims. That is because policymakers continue to base their strategies on the misguided and simplistic notion that the opioid overdose crisis impacting the US, Canada, and Europe, is tied to doctors prescribing opioids to their patients in pain. Unfortunately, political leaders and the media operate in an echo chamber,...

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Arizona’s Misguided War on Opioids

Reacting to concerns about rising opioid use and abuse, Arizona's governor, Republican Doug Ducey, issued an executive order earlier this month requiring the director of the state's Medicaid program, as well as the director of the state's employee health plans, to limit the coverage of opioid prescription to a seven-day supply. There are a few exceptions allowed, such as prescriptions for children with cancer. Physicians across the state are incensed at the order. They rightly view this as an infringement upon their autonomy, integrity, and judgment as medical professionals, and as...

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