Sunday, June 25, 2006

The New York Times’s overblown OxyContin abuse story

Here is a link to a STATS article “The New York Times' Other WMD Problem”. It discusses another example of the NYT’s poor quality control.

The NYT is not trustworthy.

Here are some excerpts from the STATS article.

“In short, the Sentinel wildly over-estimated the number of people it claimed had died from overdoses of oxycodone (the active ingredient in OxyContin) by failing to scrutinize state law enforcement data. Most of those who died turned out to have consumed, in addition to OxyContin, a cocktail of illegal drugs.”

“Still, at least the Sentinel apologized and corrected the record. No such correction or apology has ever issued from the New York Times for taking a leading role in prompting the idea that OxyContin was a weapon of mass destruction in the nation's heartland.”

““Heck, we already know it’s pretty epidemic down here,” Capt. Minor Allen of the Hazard Police Department in southeastern Kentucky told Times readers in 2001 (“Cancer Painkillers Pose New Abuse Threat” by Francis X. Clines with Barry Meier, Feb 9.) “Abuse of this drug has become unbelievable in the last year, with probably 85 to 90 percent of our field work now related to oxys,” he continued. “We find them carrying pill pushers that are sold in drugstores to help elderly people swallow their prescriptions.””

“Unfortunately, the Times placed far too much trust in the numbers being thrown out by law enforcement and legal sources — as did other news organizations, especially television, which covered Operation Oxyfest like children covering candy.”

“As the Washington Post’s television critic Tom Shales wrote in Electronic Media just a few weeks after OxyContin abuse dominated February sweeps (March 26, 2001),”

““there is no hard evidence that OxyContin played a key role in 59 Kentuckians keeling over. David Jones, an official with the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s Office, looked into the claim and wrote a letter to Purdue Pharma: ‘I am unaware of any reliable data in Kentucky that proves OxyContin is causing a lot of deaths. In the State M.E. Office, we are seeing an increase in the number of deaths from ingesting several different prescription drugs and mixing them with alcohol. OxyContin is sometimes one of these drugs.’”

“For confirmation, the Free Times turned to David W. Jones, executive director of the Kentucky State Medical Examiner’s office. He asserts that ‘as far as deaths go, I’ve heard different numbers in different places at different times; I have no idea where these people are getting their facts and figures.’ While he stresses that not every drug-related death is necessarily reported to his office, according to his data there were 27 oxycodone-related deaths in the entire state in 2000…”

““…Two of the 27 victims, he explains were found to have both oxycodone and alcohol in their bodies, with death caused by the interaction of two nervous system depressants. What’s more, 23 others had a head-spinning multiplicity of other drugs in their systems, including highly potent prescription painkillers such as Diludad and Fentanyl, as well as powerful illegal drugs like cocaine and heroin. In the final analysis, Jones reveals, only two of the 27 fatalities can be shown to have been due to the effects of oxycodone alone – not just two in eastern Kentucky, two in the entire state.””

No comments: