The prescribing of strong opioids such as oxycodone has increased dramatically in the United States and Canada over the past two decades. From 1999 through 2015, more than 183,000 deaths from prescription opioids were reported in the United States, and millions of Americans are now addicted to opioids. The crisis arose in part because physicians were told that the risk of addiction was low when opioids were prescribed for chronic pain. A one-paragraph letter that was published in the Journal in 19803 was widely invoked in support of this claim, even though no evidence was provided by the correspondents.
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