As a nation, we have watched the rise and fall of numerous medications. The most ignominious of the “fallen” drugs, opioids, are a glaring example of the damage of inadequately tested pharmaceuticals. Now Utah, while billboarding the devastation of the “opioid crisis,” is running headlong into a similar scenario in its “medical marijuana initiative.”
The rise of opioids as the treatment option for pain began as a public response to a tiny conglomerate of professional and lay voices, not based on scientific evidence, but in an effort to improve lives. Steven Passik, a psychologist proponent, said: “It had all the makings of a religious movement.” Its momentum was accelerated through misinformed, well-meaning individuals and political groups, then hospital accrediting agencies and finally, reimbursement sanctions.
One of the movement’s respected leaders, Russell Portenoy, said years later, “Did I teach about pain management, specifically about opioid therapy, in a way that reflects misinformation? Well … I guess I did. … We didn’t know then what we know now” (Wall Street Journal).
Utah needs to leave the introduction of prescription medication, its testing, route, risks, side effects, interactions and efficacy in the hands of scientific professionals — not the zealous public. Or we may be regretfully acknowledging in 20 years: “We didn’t know then what we know now.”
Evelyn Repman, Sandy