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Pain management, prescription opioid mortality, and the CDC: is the devil in the data?

Authors Schatman ME, Ziegler SJ

Received 5 October 2017

Accepted for publication 5 October 2017

Published 20 October 2017 Volume 2017:10 Pages 2489—2495

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S153322

Checked for plagiarism Yes


Michael E Schatman,1,2 Stephen J Ziegler3

1Research and Network Development, Boston Pain Care, Waltham, MA, 2Public Health and Community Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, 3Department of Public Policy, Purdue University, Fort Wayne, IN, USA

Transparency, freedom from bias, and accountability are, in principle, hallmarks of taxpayer-funded institutions. Unfortunately, it seems that at least one institution, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), continues to struggle with all three.
What began with a prescribing guideline created in secrecy has now evolved to the use of statistical data and public statements that fail to capture not only the complexity of the problem but also the distinction between licit and illicit opioids and their relationship to the alarming increase in unintentional overdose. This is unfortunately consistent with Mark Twain’s assertion that “There are lies, there are damn lies, and then there are statistics.”1


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