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Conservative Review

Just 1.3% of Massachusetts drug deaths stemmed from valid prescriptions

There is too much money and too much political power riding on the twin goals of abolishing immigration enforcement and abolishing incarceration for drug and most other violent offenses. As such, the political elites keep perpetuating the big lie that prescription painkillers are responsible for the drug crisis and not open borders, sanctuary cities, and release from jail of drug traffickers. That’s why we are seeing endless lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies. However, a new study of Massachusetts drug overdose deaths demonstrates once again that this is all an illicit drug trafficking crisis and not a prescription problem.

According to a new study of drug deaths in the Bay State by Alexander Walley, an associate professor of medicine at Boston University, just 16.8 percent of opioid-related deaths between 2013 and 2015 involved prescription opioids, and only 1.3 percent of the decedents had valid prescriptions. Walley and his team looked at 2,916 opioid-related deaths in Massachusetts over those three years and published their findings in the journal Public Health Reports.

Overall, 61.4 percent had heroin and 45.3 percent had fentanyl detected in postmortem toxicology reports. But the real kicker is that just 1.3 percent had active, valid prescriptions for each drug found in their bodies. What this demonstrates is that the chronic pain or post-surgery patients who are getting valid prescriptions do not overdose on these drugs. It’s drug addicts who use illicit drugs. Also, 32 percent of those with traces of prescription drugs in their toxicology included methadone, which is prescribed to those addicts involved in drug treatment, not legitimate pain patients. The crisis is almost exclusively driven by illicit drugs, and even when it involves prescription drugs, they are usually abused by addicts who are already abusing illicit drugs and are often accessing the pain medicine on the black market, the same way they do heroin.

However, the role of prescription painkillers in the crisis is even more miniscule than this study indicates. The universe of this study only included opioid-related deaths – illicit (heroin and street fentanyl) or prescription (oxycodone, etc.) As I’ve noted before, cocaine and meth, which are psychostimulants, not opioids, have been an increasingly problematic part of this crisis since the time period of this study ended in 2015. According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, 39 percent of those who died of drug overdoses in the first quarter of this year had cocaine in their toxicology. Obviously, 100 percent of those fatalities are from illicit drugs, which would make the prescription share of the pie even smaller. In Massachusetts, deaths due to cocaine and benzodiazepines (sleeping pills), in particular, are skyrocketing.

So, if the crisis is not due to prescriptions, what is the culprit?

Massachusetts is a state that is friendlier to criminal alien drug networks than perhaps any other state besides California. State judges have declared the entire state a sanctuary. They have done everything possible to thwart enforcement of drug laws both for American defendants and illegal aliens. It is a state where weak-on-crime and weak-on-drugs policies are merging with sanctuary policies to allow cartel contractors to operate lucrative networks in plain sight that are poisoning the entirety of New England.

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