Monday, October 1, 2018

The Latest Meaningless Drivel on the "Opioid Epidemic"

This weekend saw a story about Clay County, Tennessee, with the hook to reel in readers being that  pharmacists bought, “270 pain pills for every man, woman, and child” in the county.  You're supposed to say, "oh my God, that's terrible!" or "those poor people!" or perhaps just cluck like a chicken.  Personally, I say, "what would a normal number be?"

I think it ought to be obvious that in one year, “every man, woman, and child”didn't take 270 pain pills.  That would be almost 3/4 of one pill for the year.  Clearly, some people needed to take some regularly while the vast majority didn't.  I can speculate: if someone has an acute pain crisis, surgery or an injury, say, they may take four pills a day for a couple of weeks, call it 60 pills.  That reduces the 270 pills for the entire population to a smaller number.  If the entire population took that one course of pain pills (they wouldn't have), you're down to 210 per person.  The story offers no such details, nor does the DEA provide them. 

Clay County doesn't have much in the way of population.  According to the news story linked above, about 7800 people, and its one city of any size, Celina, has four pharmacies.  The owner of one of those pharmacies, Tara Anderson, says, “I haven’t done anything I’m trying to hide.”
She says there's a need for pain medication in Clay County because of an aging workforce of manual laborers, who are now feeling the physical effects of their jobs.
Sound familiar?  Isn't this what Aesop at Raconteur Report wrote about opioids in Northern California last year?   (Parts 1, 2, 3, Final)

Bouncing back to the original news report:
It's that high volume of opioids for such a small population that caught the attention of federal agents.
Again, no information on exactly what the "high volume" is.  Is this 2.0 standard deviations higher than other cities with similar populations?  (I doubt it, but for illustration).  Three standard deviations?  Is it twice the normal amount?  10x?  20x?  We simply have nothing to judge this with.  With no contextual information, the whole story is based on a meaningless number.

Instead of going through drug store records, the DEA might be better off looking at the Census records.  If the population is largely older manual laborers, as pharmacist Ms. Anderson says, it may be totally legit.

Short version of my conclusion: I think there's a deliberate attempt to conflate prescription opioid problems with illegal heroin overdose.  We don't have a prescription drug problem, we have a "junkies shooting adulterated heroin problem".  So why the public ruse?  The old advise to "follow the money" leads me to the company that makes naloxone, the anti-narcotic drug administered to people in overdose.  It was being pushed that virtually everyone should carry it everywhere as a lifesaver; it was even pushed on librarians to have it available for the library junkies who OD while watching internet porn in the library (do you have that where you live?).  The price of naloxone had gone up 17x.  Going down that rabbit hole led directly to Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

Going on a wider view, that led directly to the US government making deals with the Sinaloa drug cartel for purposes that aren't clear.


  1. All this hoopla will do is to keep people who need pain medication from getting it. The illegal market in opiates is not controlled by current legislation, though building the wall would be a good place to start.

    The War on Opiates simply tells doctors to steer their patients to ibuprofen... And that doesn't work.

  2. We REALLY need to stop worrying so much about the "opioid crisis" and drug addiction. It's a SELF SOLVING PROBLEM if allowed to follow it's natural course.
    Humans have rights. One of those inherent rights is the right to SELF DESTRUCTION.
    We need to allow people to ingest, inject, inhale or smoke WHATEVER chemical they choose. They will either learn or die. Either way the problem is solved.

  3. There is an evil side to this war on prescription drugs. Most "experts" doctors, scientists and police know that it is fentanyl, made in China and brought into this country through Mexico that is killing 60-70 thousand Americans a year. It is NOT prescription opiods doing it. But some of the very people who know this are in fact trying to limit what a doctor can prescribe and even use the threat of criminal charges to intimidate doctors. Why are they doing this? It isn't about saving lives of drug users and it isn't about science, so what is the goal???

  4. Yeah, it's a scam. But, we already knew that. :)

  5. Just like in other areas, it is the Scare of the day and we hear lots of excitement about it that is nearly devoid of facts.
    It reminds me of the local 'highway safety campaign' here that solely consists of giving cops overtime to pull over speeders - less than 30% of fatal accidents are caused by speeding, so they guarantee that their campaign won't do much because they don't address 70% of the problem.

  6. I presume that figure of 270 pills per person is meant to be per year.
    Well phooey. I'm on a prescription of 8 per day. That's mumble-mumble over 2900 per year, and it just takes the edge off.

  7. A personal anecdote, I had Carpal Tunnel surgery several years ago. I was given a Rx for Oxycodone with instruction to take as needed for pain. The first day I actually felt pretty good thanks to the drugs administered during surgery. The next day I took one of the oxycodones, wow the room was spinning one way and my chair was spinning the other. Called the doc and he said to try ibuprofen instead. So unless my chronic back pain gets a lot worse, I'll stick with NSAIDs unless big brother takes them away.

    I know NSAIDs don't work for every one (hell, there are days they don't work for me). If your pain is bad enough that you need opiates to function, and you're aware of the issues, is it that bad if you get addicted? That should be between you and your doctor, not the government.

    1. The problem comes when you make it so hard to get a refill for chronic pain meds, and so expensive to do so for so little return on effort, that it's literally cheaper and easier to buy drugs on the street.

      Which is precisely what cracking down on opiate prescriptions has done.
      You literally have people turning to shooting up heroin rather than wait three months to get a refill on a 30 day prescription.

      There is literally nothing the government can touch that it is incapable of f**king up even worse.

    2. There is literally nothing the government can touch that it is incapable of f**king up even worse.

      Absolute truth. They're good at killing people and breaking things. The even intend to kill some of the people and intend to break some of things!

    3. They sometimes even intend... goes in place of The even intend

  8. Opioid prescription deaths are to opioid deaths as legal immigrants are to immigrants.

    Opioid deaths, by a vast majority, are heroin addicts getting its of acetyl fentanyl-laced smack, not 80 year olds ODing on too many Percocet.

    At a ratio of probably 100:1.

    Find a story on "Opioid epidemic" that tells you that.
    I'll wait.

    It's as much lying with facts by omission as it would be to tell you the number of gun deaths in Chicongo, without noting that most of them were deaths by criminals with illegal guns, and trying to paint the picture that white retirees with skeet and trap shotguns from the country club were bagging all those weekly death tolls, rather than it being hoodrat gang members fighting over dope turf.

    Chicongo doesn't have a lead epidemic, it has an armed gang banger epidemic.

    America doesn't have an opioid epidemic, it has a dead heroin junkie epidemic.

    Bug vs. feature: you decide.