I have permission to post the following post on a Linkedin forum by Michael Shaffer:

I was researching statistics today and found some interesting (though not unknown) facts concerning annual mortality from opioid related poisoning. As someone working to find better data and predictive instruments for use in chronic pain patient populations, I’d never questioned the media enhanced assumption that there was an “epidemic” of oxycontin driven overdoses sweeping the nation. What I found was that was very far from the truth. The data published by the medical examiners and the CDC all only look at causes of death – and do not account for instances of high dosage end of life patients, etc… Even so, the numbers were still very startling. I’m posting them below. Before I do – be kind. My only agenda is to have a dialogue and hopefully be exposed to new directions.

In 2005, there were approx 217 million filled opioid prescriptions. Of those, 5,362,815 were for Methadone or approx 2.47 %.

In 2005, there were 12, 262 opioid related deaths:

a. 2110 were from Heroin or approx 17%
b. 4462 were from Methadone or approx 36%
c. 5789 were from all other opioids COMBINED or approx 47%

In other words, heroin and methadone make up less than 5% of all opioid use but combine to account for approx 53% of the deaths.


To put those numbers in perspective, each year more the 440,000 people die from cigarettes and more than 75,000 from alcohol. Combined, these two preventable epidemics are causing more than 515,000 deaths in the US annually with no purpose other than to enrich corporations at the detriment to the consumer and to society as a whole.

3400% more deaths than from all opioids (illicit and prescribed) combined.


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