A World of Hurt: Fixing Pain Medicine’s Biggest Mistake

Barry Meier

“A World of Hurt” explores the untold part of the prescription painkiller story – growing evidence that these drugs, along with causing an epidemic of abuse, are often ineffective in treating long-term pain and are harming patients.

Written by Barry Meier, an award-winning reporter for the Times, this new e-book also examines an unfolding medical revolution that will change the thinking of patients and their families. A decade ago, drug companies and medical experts launched a “War on Pain” that promoted the widespread use of powerful narcotic painkillers for common conditions such as back pain, headaches and fibromyalgia. Specialists claimed that a “bright line” separated the drugs’ benefits for patients from their dangers when abused on the street by young people and others.

Today, Meier writes, experts – including some who once promoted the drugs – believe that the opioid boom “ranks among medicine’s biggest mistakes." Recent studies have tied long-term use of these drugs, particularly at high doses, to addiction, dependence, reduced sexual drive, lethargy and other problems. Based on stories of researchers, patients and others, “A World of Hurt” highlights how treating pain differently can benefit both pain patients and the public's health.

“The promise that high-powered drugs could provide a cure-all – the key to winning the ‘War on Pain’ – was an empty one,” Meier writes.

A World of Hurt is published by The New York Times and Vook.

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