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