I have a letter to the editor of today’s Boston Globe. It relates to this editorial. Text of the letter:
In an otherwise laudable editorial on the sad plight of Richard Paey (”Prescription for pain,” Feb. 5), the Globe reported Middlesex County District Attorney Martha Coakley as having said that there is a problem of prescription drug users becoming addicted to substances like OxyContin.
This is a common and unfortunate misconception. The medical literature overwhelmingly shows that so-called accidental addiction is rare. For example, Dr. Russell Portenoy of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York found that of 25,000 cancer patients being treated with opiate therapy, just seven became addicted.
Obviously, one wouldn’t expect a district attorney to be up on all the medical literature. But the fact that we don’t expect such knowledge from our law-enforcement officials is a pretty convincing argument against letting police and prosecutors determine what is and isn’t acceptable medical treatment.