The “Porter and Jick” letter published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 1980, which has been cited more than 600 times over the years, may have been the spark that ignited North America’s opioid crisis, new research suggests. A new Correspondence piece published in the June 1 issue of the NEJM reports that although the letter was not heavily referenced, it has been cited more than 600 times, with many authors “grossly misrepresenting” the conclusion.

The brief, five-sentence 1980 letter reported that among 39,946 hospitalized medical patients, of whom 11,882 received at least one narcotic, there were only four documented cases of addiction – and only one of these cases was considered major. The letter ended by stating, “The development of addiction is rare in medical patients with no history of addiction.”

Read Correspondence Regarding the 1980 Letter on the Risk of Opioid Addiction
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