The term "opioid epidemic" is outdated to the point where the message conveyed is inaccurate. Also, every time the phrase is used most people will automatically think "pills." But pills are now a minor contributor to overdose deaths; it is illegal street drugs – especially illicit fentanyl – that’s (by far) driving the surge in overdoses. Substituting the term "fentanyl epidemic" would instead shift the blame to where it belongs, while going a long way toward halting the demonization of vitally important medicines. Words matter.
It's no secret that the CDC's 2016 Advice on opioid prescribing, by any measure, has been an unmitigated disaster. Dr. Red Lawhern, ACSH advisor and pain patient advocate, spares no one in his discussion of the egregious mistakes that the CDC made -- and continues to make.