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In this section, we will list common talking points of anti-opioid zealots. We want to give you the tools to discuss these common misleading statements.
"The USA is 5% of the world's population, but we consume 80% of the world's prescription opioids and 99% or the world's hydrocodone (Vicodin)."
"80% of heroin users started with a prescription from their doctor."
This is a common statement that people use to show how much our country overprescribes opioids. You'll hear it in opioid litigation, series like Dopesick and Crime of the Century, and webinars from physicians from organizations like Fed-Up Rally, PROP, and Shatterproof. It's said for shock value. Here are some bullet points when responding to this statement:
This lie or false narrative is repeated so often, it seems like it’s everywhere. We’ve seen it used by the DEA, in opioid litigation, as well as in every single presentation given by anti-opioid zealots such as Andrew Kolodny, Anna Lembke, Roger Chou, etc. It's also repeated often on social media by people who don't know any better and just repeat what they've heard "experts" say. Remember, they need to make it sound like all addiction and overdose deaths are the fault of pharma, distributers, doctors, and pharmacies. It is necessary for the billions of dollars they are trying to get in litigation settlement. They want people to believe that the vast majority of all with opioid use disorder (OUD) started from a prescription from their doctor, and that the majority of those who misuse or even just use prescription opioids end up using heroin.
A perfect example of this is this video clip from last year's Johnson and Johnson trial. Look how they phrased it.
First, let's look at where this statistic comes from. In this article in Pain News Network Roger Chriss discusses the origin of this statistic: "The DEA cites the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) as its source, while NIDAs in turn references a 2013 studyby the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMHSA)." I'm going to give bullet points and include sources of the information so you can confidently respond to this false narrative.
I'll list some links to some more articles and studies that discuss this topic in case you'd like to read more about it.
An article in Reason came out yesterday about the ruling for the Defendants (four drug companies-Teva, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, and Endo) in opioid litigation. This is huge for our community. The Judge said the Plaintiffs failed to prove the charges of public nuisance and false advertising. Superior Court Judge, Peter J. Wilson wrote a 42 page ruling. This was the first of thousands of cases filed across the country regarding the "opioid crisis," filed in 2014. The Plaintiffs' claims were:
Judge Wilson ruled the Plaintiffs failed to prove any of these claims. Some direct quotes from Judge Wilson's ruling:
"The general public has been brainwashed about the (lack of) safety and efficacy of prescription opioids." ~Claudia Merandi
"When you're talking about these professional anti-opioid crusaders, let's publicly ask and demand that these organizations like PharmedOut, PROP, and people like Andrew Kolodny, Jane Ballantyne, and Anna Lembke disclose all of the money that they've received from anti-opioid lawsuits for the last 20 years." ~Dr. Dan Laird