Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Who's Fooling Who? CDC Says Most Overdose Deaths Involve a Prescription Opioid. But in Massachusetts Only 20% do.

Drug overdose deaths in the United States hit record numbers in 2014

 At least half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid. HHS/CDCMore people died from drug overdoses in 2014 than in any year on record. The majority of drug overdose deaths (more than six out of ten) involve an opioid.1 And since 1999, the number of overdose deaths involving opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin) nearly quadrupled.2 From 2000 to 2014 nearly half a million people died from drug overdoses. 78 Americans die every day from an opioid overdose.
We now know that overdoses from prescription opioid pain relievers are a driving factor in the 15-year increase in opioid overdose deaths. Since 1999, the amount of prescription opioids sold in the U.S. nearly quadrupled,2 yet there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report.3,4 Deaths from prescription opioids—drugs like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and methadone—have also quadrupled since 1999.5

In Massachusetts, real time data have just been made available, and fentanyl and heroin overdose deaths outweigh those involving prescription opioids 4 to 1 and 3 to 1, respectively. Prescription opioids were only found in 20% of OD deaths.

Afghanistan had a bumper crop of opium this year, while illicit fentanyl consumption and production (which, unlike heroin, does not require opium as a raw material, and its potential production is virtually limitless) is also booming.  

Why does CDC blow smoke about the narcotic crisis?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

She didn’t think a flu shot was necessary — until her daughter died/ WaPo

Last week's Washington Post had a very sad, haunting story about the death of a twelve year old girl from flu-related causes.  Her mother had tried for ten years to have her, and finally succeeded using in vitro fertilization.  Then her daughter developed flu, organ failure and died, in rapid succession, last January.

It was probably no coincidence the story was published in October, the prime month for advertisements for flu shots.  While the take home message was to get your children vaccinated, the odds that a vaccine would have prevented this death are less than even. 

My comment:

This story omitted important information. 
According to CDC, the flu shot has been, on average, 37% effective over the past 12 years. However, also according to CDC, the FluMist nasal vaccine used in children was pulled this year, because it *did not work* over the past 3 flu seasons. 

According to the Cochrane Collaboration, there are no data on flu vaccine efficacy in infants and toddlers. Therefore I would not encourage parents of very young children to vaccinate them for flu, as the vaccine might be considered experimental in this age group. 

Last year there were 85 pediatric deaths from flu. There are 80 million flu vaccine-eligible children in the US. If you vaccinated 80,000,000, you might prevent an estimated 31 pediatric deaths (37% x 85)---but you would cause many cases of Guillain-Barre paralysis and other side effects. So the net cost/benefit of vaccinating children is uncertain, and could well be negative. 

Finally, nearly all people who die from flu-related causes die from a complication of flu, like pneumonia. In Piper Lowery's case, her mother took her to the hospital "several times" in the 4 days from illness onset to death. Why was she sent home several times? Her doctors should have known better.