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Doctor’s 1980 Letter That Helped Trigger the Opioid Epidemic

Five-sentence letter to the editor wound up proving both incorrect and wildly influential.

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A very brief letter helped lead to a very big problem today.

A five- sentence letter to the editor in a 1980 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine by Jane Porter and Dr. Hershel Jick of the Boston Collaborative Drug Surveillance Program played a bizarrely large role in the current opioid epidemic.

In fact, much of the impact can be traced to this single sentence:

“We conclude that despite widespread use of narcotic drugs in hospitals, the development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.”

Obviously, that statement has proven to be inaccurate. Unfortunately, it proved deeply influential along scholars, getting cited at least 608 times over the years. As history has showed, however, it helped lull medical professionals and lay people into a false sense of security over the dangers of opioids.

Read full story at Los Angeles Times