Two Anti-Opioid Zealots Run Into A Biostatistician. Here's What Happened.

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Dr. Stan Young is a man on a mission and he's got all the right weapons to pull it off. Young, a renowned biostatistician (1), takes junk studies, especially those that involve misused or meaningless epidemiology, rather personally. They make him furious.

So, when he happened across a substandard paper by two anti-opioid zealots David Juurlink, M.D., Ph.D., and Yong-Fang Kuo, Ph.D. entitled "Association of Chronic Opioid Use With Presidential Voting Patterns in US Counties in 2016," he spoke up, just like he always does.

Dr. Young gave me permission to reprint his letter to Juurlink and Kuo. Here it is for your reading pleasure:

Dear Drs. Kuo and Juurlink:

I think your paper, "Association of Chronic Opioid Use With Presidential Voting Patterns in US Counties in 2016" misses the mark."

You say, "Importance: The causes of the opioid epidemic are incompletely understood."

Well, this is false. The killer is illicit fentanyl and its analogs, not approved opioids. The "fentanyls" are cheap and deadly. The market opened up for these drugs when tighter restrictions were placed on approved drugs that then became more difficult to divert. Unintended consequences. 

Association fails to show causation, especially if the real causative variable is intentionally ignored

You should track down the work of Dr. Josh Bloom:

https://www.acsh.org/news/2018/07/12/government-doubles-down-pills-fentanyl-deaths-double-13190

Stan Young, Ph.D.

(NOTE):

(1) Dr. Young's bio: Dr. Young graduated from North Carolina State University, BS, MES and a Ph.D. in Statistics and Genetics. He later worked in the pharmaceutical industry on all phases of pre-clinical research, first at Eli Lilly and then at GlaxoSmithKline. He has authored or co-authored over 50 papers including six “best paper” awards, and a highly cited book, Resampling-Based Multiple Testing. He has two issued patents. He is interested in all aspects of applied statistics, with a special interest in chemical and biological informatics. He conducts research in the area of data mining. Additionally, Dr. Young is a Fellow of the American Statistical Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He is an adjunct professor of statistics at North Carolina State University, the University of Waterloo and the University of British Columbia where he co-directs thesis work.

(1) Dr. Young is also a member of the ACSH scientific advisory board.