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PHARMA/QUALITY/PHYSICIANS: Rational sense on opioid use for cancer sufferers, with reference to Kinsey and rationalism.

A very important THCB reader — one that I have to be nice to if I want to feature in the will, and you might guess that I’m a couple of wickets down already — has forwarded me this BMJ article on opioid use for cancer patients.

Last night I saw the movie Kinsey, which told the story of how Kinsey’s research on human sexuality in the 1940s and 1950s created great advancement in human understanding, and helped remove the weight of hundreds of years of damaging religious bigotry — yup into the 1930s married couples were taught that any non-missionary position sex (including using the mouth or the fingers) was wrong and unnatural. There’s a harrowing scene were his father eventually tells him that he was fitted with a strap to prevent masturbation. I thought of this in the context of opioids, because apart from certain lunatics on the Christian right, rational people agree that the behaviors imposed by society on sexual "deviants" — homosexuality was a jailable offense as recently as the 1950s –were both morally wrong and harmful to individuals and society as a whole. We needed science (and I know there’s a lot of criticism of Kinsey, M&J and Hite’s methods, but they approached the issue from a scientific not a moralistic perspective) to show us the truth in a rational dispassionate way.

The war on pain doctors and patients is being fought by a similar band of lunatic puritans as attacked (and still attack) Kinsey.  Only these moralistic jihadists have the full force of the Justice Department behind them and are clearly bending every commonsense understanding of justice and ethics to imprison and destroy anyone who holds a different, more humane view.

Of course the main problem here is that the puritan jihadists have equated opioid use for pain as some kind of great moral failing. Well the scientific view is succinctly and excellently put by a leading British physician:

Concerns about morphine: Morphine has long been feared by the general public and the medical profession. Underlying this fear is the mistaken belief that the potential for misuse of opioids is linked with their use as analgesics. Unfortunately, concerns about addiction, respiratory depression, and excessive sedation cause healthcare professionals to avoid using opioids or to use them in suboptimal doses. Clinical experience has shown that these fears are largely unfounded and that addiction is not likely if morphine is used to manage pain responsive to opioids in doses titrated to the degree of pain. Withdrawal symptoms indicate physical dependence and should not be confused with psychological dependence (addiction).

It’s mainstream educated work like this that needs to be broadcast widely, and all physicians and other scientists need to continue to trumpet this loudly. Don’t forget that the puritan jihadists want to take us back to their equivalent of Sharia law, and the real fight among civilizations is not between Christians and Muslims, it’s between the rationalists and the zealots. And if you think I’m overstating it let me  use this quote from the Guardian of a smattering of leading anti-Kinsey campaigners (yup, they really exist)

The religious right still fear and despise Kinsey and all his works. Check out some of the (apparently coordinated) responses to the new movie. "Kinsey’s proper place is with Nazi doctor Josef Mengele," says Robert Knight of Concerned Women for America, inadvertently showing us what he thinks of the Holocaust. Robert Peters of Morality in Media: "That’s part of Kinsey’s legacy: Aids, abortion, the high divorce rate, pornography." Focus on the Family’s film critic (they have a film critic?), Tom Neven, calls the movie "rank propaganda for the sexual revolution and the homosexual agenda". And Judith Reisman, who has waged a decades-long war against Kinsey’s memory, refers to "a legacy of massive venereal disease, broken hearts and broken souls".

And is it a Jihad?  Well the lunatics certainly think so:

A recent newsletter of the abstinence-education group Why know? compared the publication of “The Kinsey Report,” in 1948, to the attacks of September 11th, and labeled Kinseyism “fifty years of cultural terrorism.”

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I am a pharmacist actively involved with hospice care. And, I agree that patients in pain must be treated, and treated fully. However, as pharmacists everywhere know (although no one ever asks us), a substantial number of patients who receive large quantities of controlled substances have no physical pain at all. They are simply dependent. What’s more, most such patients manage to seek out and find the handful of doctors willing to give out CS prescriptions to all comers. I believe that most pharmacists are able to distinguish patients in pain from those who are not. It’s a matter of… Read more »