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Astral Codex Ten Podcast

Sep 18, 2019




“Pseudoaddiction” is one of the standard beats every article on the opioid crisis has to hit. Pharma companies (the story goes) invented a concept called “pseudoaddiction”, which looks exactly like addiction, except it means you just need to give the patient more drugs. Bizarrely gullible doctors went along with this and increased prescriptions for their addicted patients. For example, from a letter in the Wall Street Journal:

Parroting Big Pharma’s excuses about FDA oversight and black-box warnings only discounts how companies like Johnson & Johnson engaged in pervasive misinformation campaigns and even promoted a theory of “pseudoaddiction” to encourage doctors to prescribe even more opioids for patients who displayed signs of addiction.

Or from CBS:

But amid skyrocketing addiction rates and overdoses related to OxyContin, Panara claimed the company taught a sales tactic she now considers questionable, saying some patients might only appear to be addicted when in fact they’re just in pain. In training, she was taught a term for this: “pseudoaddiction.”
“So the cure for ‘pseudoaddiction,’ you were trained, is more opioids?” Dokoupil asked.

“A higher dose, yes,” Panara said.