Pain Patients Blast Consumer Reports’ Opioids Story

Pain Patients Blast Consumer Reports’ Opioids Story

A respected consumer magazine best known for its ratings on refrigerators and vacuum cleaners is weighing in on the abuse of opioid pain medication – and many pain patients aren’t happy about it, calling the article “irresponsible” and “full of half-truths.”

6a00e550081576883401a73df9b640970d-320wi“America is in pain — and being killed by its painkillers,” warns Consumer Reports in a cover story called “The Danger of Painkillers”. The article criticizes the Food and Drug Administration for not protecting consumers from risks associated with opioids and warns about the “deadly misconceptions” many people have about the drugs.

According to the article, opioids are inappropriate for long-term pain and many chronic pain patients would be better off using other medications or over-the-counter (OTC) pain relievers.

“For certain types of pain — including nerve pain, migraines and fibromyalgia — other prescription medications usually work better than opioids,” the article states. “For other types of chronic pain, ask your doctor about trying OTC drugs such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and naproxen before prescription drugs. Nondrug measures such as exercise, massage, behavioral therapy, and acupuncture might also help.

If you have chronic pain that hasn’t responded to other treatment, opioids may be an option. But your doctor should prescribe the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time and monitor you for side effects.”

The article makes no mention of medical marijuana – which many pain patients find effective in treating pain – nor does it identify the prescription drugs that “usually work better” than opioids.

Drugs such as Lyrica and Cymbalta are often prescribed to treat conditions such as fibromyalgia, but according to many pain patients and a recent survey by National Pain Report, most who try the medications say they don’t work or have unwelcome side effects.

The Consumer Reports article covers little new ground in the debate over prescription opioids and repeats often cited claims that “46 people per day, or almost 17,000 people per year, die from overdoses of the drugs.” Recent research has questioned the validity of those estimates.

“It is a crappy story full of half-truths, opinions and outright lies, not on any legitimate evidence,” said Janice Reynolds, a retired nurse, pain patient and longtime activist in the pain community.

“It does what similar stories in the media do and that is harm people with persistent pain. They do make a few good points but unfortunately the overwhelming portion of the story is slanted to give incorrect impressions. All medication is potentially dangerous yet unmanaged pain is just as dangerous and certainly those who would impede the management of pain are behaving unethically.”

“It’s not an attack on the pain community,” said Lisa Gill, a Consumer Reports editor who worked on the story. “The people who are well controlled on their opioid drugs, nowhere in this article does it say that that’s bad and they shouldn’t be doing that.”

“We were very influenced by the CDC’s ongoing reports that they put out, about the opioid pain pill crisis in America. And we were very motivated by the 500,000 people sent to the ER every year and the 17,000 people who died. In the case of the 500,000, over half are people who have received legitimate prescriptions from one doctor for pain. This is what set the stage for us.”

“It’s not an effort to get rid of all opioids. Nobody’s saying that people shouldn’t be taking them,” Gill told National Pain Report. “When you look at the CDC’s statistics, I think we all could admit they are alarming. I mean it’s absolutely stunning to see the number of opioid prescriptions that have skyrocketed in the last decade and the number of subsequent deaths.”

One of the “deadly misconceptions” about opioids – according to Consumer Reports – is that the drugs are not addictive when used to treat pain. But the article never distinguishes between addiction and dependence – an important point to many pain patients who say they need opioids to have any semblance of a normal life. According to the National Institutes of Health, only about 5% of patients taking opioids as directed for a year end up with an addiction problem.

“Pretzel logic and misinformation galore. The prohibitionist slant was obvious from the first paragraph on,” said pain patient Ryan Lankford. “If you don’t want to take opioids for your pain, then don’t. You have that right. But when you try to enact legislation that affects chronic pain patients like me, you just attacked MY rights. MY liberty. And I have a problem with that.”

“Sadly, Consumer Reports continues a pattern followed by many in the media of whipping up fear over the dangers of opioids without also providing balance by considering the benefits that these important drugs have for patients who use them appropriately,” said Dr. Jefferey Fudin, a pharmacist, in a post on his blog.

“This has unfortunately had an adverse effect on legitimate pain patients and has served to fuel anger in those unfortunate families who remain to grieve over a loved one that has succumbed to opioid addiction, eventual overdose and death.  The media has been grossly irresponsible by ignoring the whole truth, and [educated] politicians should be ashamed for using the misfortune and grieving of others to bolster a bully pulpit by which to gain popularity while hanging their legitimate pain patient constituents out to dry.”

The Consumer Reports story was funded in part by a $3.1 million dollar grant from the State Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which received money from a settlement of consumer-fraud claims over the illegal marketing of Neurontin (gabapentin). Neurontin — which has been called the “snake oil of the twentieth century” — is still widely prescribed “off-label” to treat a variety of chronic pain conditions.

“It concerns me in all the facets of my relationship to pain, that there is now a war against people with pain.  It distresses me greatly that most of what is printed and said in the media uses poor research or interprets it incorrectly, is based mostly on opinion (usually not of someone who actually has expertise in pain management), half-truths, or just basically outright lies. It is sad to see Consumer Reports going this route,” Reynolds said in an email to National Pain Report.

“I don’t think they’re the appropriate venue for doing this and I certainly don’t think they’re the appropriate venue for taking a position such as this. What I found more disturbing is that somebody such as Consumer Reports doesn’t do their homework effectively. They’re just taking someone else’s word for a lot of this stuff.”

Authored by: Pat Anson, Editor

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I’m so glad pain patients went after them for their one sidedness. I’m so tired of people only looking at the addiction side of things. We are innocent and didn’t ask to be sick and in pain. Why must we pay for others bad choices. We really need to stand up and advocate for ourselves because we aren’t being heard in the national media and people hear one side of the story.


Consumer Reports has a habit of downgrading things. While they claim neutrality, their test protocols are unrealistic and in many cases not related to the job the ((Item)) is supposed to do in real life.
But then these people aren’t interested in real life: they want to sell copies of Consumer Reports so they “Fancy Up” and “Add an interesting twist” to their tests. No surprise there. We all need to make a living.
What bothers me is that not one of their so-called “Sources” is a person who uses Opiate pain relievers to manage their pain, in fact they admit they have done NO original testing at all. That is a violation of the basic principle behind Consumer Reports’ validity; THEY DID NOT DO ANY TESTING THEMSELVES. THEY RELIED ON AN ADMITTEDLY BIASED SOURCE FOR THEIR DATA. Yes, the Caps are intentional. This is a departure from every standard Consumer Reports claims to espouse.
Perhaps next we’ll be seeing car safety reports provided by the carmakers, or clothing flammability data as offered by the clothing makers.
With this piece of Editorial, disguised as a Report, Consumer Reports has shown itself to have lost any credibility, any trustworthiness, any honesty in their reportage.
They’re just another Scandal Rag now…and I’m cancelling my subscription. When I read this, I couldn’t believe it…and now I can’t trust Consumer Reports. They have abandoned their neutrality for sensationalism.
Ave Atque Vale, Consumer Reports. You were great while you were honest.


Red – The place to post your reply is (or rather, where I did mine) in a link which is inside the FDA tip box at the bottom of the original article. The text reads something like “Harmed by options or acetaminophen? Share your story.” That’s where I posted my POSITIVE story. You don’t get to read anyone else’s comments or stories, but you can submit your own. Hope that helps.


I don’t even see a comments section on that page when I follow the link. They must have gotten rid of it because of the backlash from chronic pain patients.


Oh, did I ever have something to say to them in response to their article! Multiple things, actually. And I think I articulated them very well as a POSITIVE responder to narcotics in their “horror stories” response section.

As a chronic pain suffer myself and a mental health professional, I see for myself how pain affects quality of life for so many. It’s absolutely ridiculous that the government would try to step in and overrule physicians who have actually been TRAINED in medicine and take away the options for successfully treating individual patients. I’m so annoyed with this that I could just spit.

But really…am I the only one who saw mental images of pain killers running after people with lit torches and pitchforks when I read that the FDA was being called upon to “protect” consumers from pain killers?

Why are we the only patients vilified in this way? Because our pain is invisible and constantly called into question. For this reason, I believe, the media feels free to seize on any statistic, however invalid, to directly or indirectly, vilify us. My patience with these ****ers (feel free to edit this, Pat) has evaporated. There are only a few of us who write about the horrible lives that we pain patients suffer. We are not asking for special attention, we are merely asking to be medically treat the same as a diabetic, a cancer patient, or someone suffering from COPD. This is nothing more than the discredited war on drugs which has now morphed into a war on pain patients. I again challenge these people to live a week inside my body, or the bodies of the millions of us who struggle to stay alive each and every day! Your tune would radically change.


The Comsumer Reports story was one of the worst written, poorly researched articles I have ever read. It was so unbelievably one sided and biased it read like it could have been written by a high school kid that didn’t know what unbiased journalism meant. I agree with some other commenters that the Prohibitionist slant was evident from the very beginning of the article. I think the first sentence clearly sets the tone for article. It is ridiculous that this writer’s editors allowed this to go to print, and as a cover story no less! An editor worth his/her salt would’ve demanded a more balanced story with perhaps some interviews with pain management doctors that see what GOOD they can do, and also a few chronic pain patients that have successfully been on opiates for years with no addiction issues whatsoever. But maybe they were smart, I mean I can’t remember the last time I read anything else for consumer reports. Maybe sensationalism will drum up some business for them. I am chronic pain patient. I have Complex Regional Pain Syndrome. Most of you probably haven’t heard of this disease, but it is considered the highest rated pain known condition that exists today (according to the McGill Pain scale). This condition will affect me for the rest of my life. I am young. I want to have a full life in front of me, but with every increasing regulation on opiates and pain treatment that gets more difficult. I experience intense nerve pain in almost my whole body literally every second of the day. My disease has been confirmed by 5 different specialists. I clearly have debiliting pain that at times makes it impossible for me to walk, use my arms, shower (water sensitivity is a major factor in my disease), and do even the simplest things to take care of me, and yet almost every time I have to fill a narcotic prescription or have one changed I am treated like a criminal. I have to jump (oh I wish I could actually jump) through a million hoops, make several trips back and forth to the pharmacy (and I don’t drive, so I have to find somebody or get a taxi), deal with insurance who always thinks they know better than my doctors, and have to deal with stares and questioning looks from people at the pharmacy wondering why the young, seemingly healthy (my disease is a mostly “invisible disease”) woman needs so many drugs. It’s not fair. I shouldn’t be treated like this. I shouldn’t be treated like I am doctor hopping when I want a second opinion on a dangerous operation that could spread my nerve damage. Anybody with cancer would be encouraged to get a second or third opinion, but since I have a pain condition it is completely frowned upon which is not fair at all. This is my health and I should be allowed to be as proactive about it as anybody else. I… Read more »


Why do you people never actually talk to those that have chronic pain? The people making the laws claim these new regulations do not hurt legitimate pain patients, but that is a lie. You have not bothered to actually talk to people from the actual patients. We are treated like criminals. We are humiliated, accused and forced to dance like puppets (an actual activity none of us can do). Where are the stories of the end stage cancer patient who can’t get their meds? Where are the stories of the MS patient who’s had their entire medical privacy violated at a pharmacy? Where are the doctors who have stopped treating their patients because the DEA has made it almost impossible to help their patients?


Exactly. Interview people LOSING MEDICAL ACCESS, due to this and so much violations, billfraud, abuse and more as drs refuse to dx!


So sick of pain, sick people being treated like addicts.
Want to know addicts…for I do not, and its not even safe, esp sick to be around addicts.
There is such a huge difference between addicts and sick, its absurd to group them together.
Noone sick, in alot of pain ever writes these articles or legislation!
And, blame the sooo many doctors, that REFUSE to diagnose as charge minimum $200 a visit for eight minutes, as ones conditions worsen.
And then drs and hospitals throwing somatic and other labels around, as IF ones want to be physically sick, is libel and abuse.
Go test the drs for drugs, to find more addicts.
Medical in America has become a crisis and overbilling is overpracticed.
Consumer Reports is way off the mark, and should be reporting CONSUMER EXPERIENCE.

Kevin McQueeney Sr.

The most one-sided story I have read in a long time. That it was the cover story in the September issue of Consumer Reports left me speechless. They most certainly will have one less subscriber when it comes time for me to renew.

Where in the world were your editors?

Kevin M


What a pile of crap! Of course there are people who misuse this but these days doctors don’t prescription for pain medications easily. I know I suffered horribly for years almost to the point of killing myself. Luckily, a risky surgery helped me with the worst pain. There are people not willing to take the risk with this surgery (risk of death, paralysis)…and of them there is no other option! I’m sorry tylenol or advil are great for a headache and minor aches but not for severe pain. The ignorance of this article is outstanding.

So far I’ve lived through the morphine attacks by those villagers with the burning crosses but I’m also on Neurontin. I’m so afraid that the villagers are coming back for me because I bought the snake oil.

At any rate, I think this proves that the function of a doctor/patient relationship is to find what does work. I also believe that when you find it, it works so well that you can “set it and forget it.” My morphine/tramadol/neurontin mix has been the same for 5 years now, (minus the rude interruption by the DEA), and together they are a miracle drug…FOR ME!
3/4 of the things I do I wouldn’t recommend for others, but they do work for me and they are worth trying.

And another thing…see what happens when pain patients get together and voice their opinions. Keep it up folks! Get online and look for things to sign. Great work for a bunch of sick people! Yea!

Dollie Feld

What most of these companies don’t seem to realize is that all diseases are not felt by most of those that are either writing these articles or, whom are, working for the government for the DEA. If they did have the, daily, struggle and pain that many of us go thru on a daily basis, their opinions would be drastically different.

I do everything I can not to need the useage of these, drugs., I do have acupuncture, I do receive very gentle massage, I do try to exercise as much as possible, and I do meditate to calm, my body and soul. But I have a disease, it’s as simple as that. There are many reasons why some,’ of us have this disease, but no 2 person are the same. There, is also the point that along with a disease, your autoimmune systems is, always being attacked, which opens the doors for additional health problems to, arise. We know that we as intelligent human beings, will only use the very minimum of medication that we need.. Butt what is misunderstood ifs that there are times when nothing else will work against the ravaging plain that we withstand. These drugs were made and are provided for problems of pain such as what we experience, and we are watched very closely by our physicians. If someone slips thru those cracks, it is not because of the majority of us that respect the guidelines that are set aside strictly for us. Because the system may fail does not mean that the problem lies flat upon the many patients that are abiding by the law and w should not be penalized by the few that are.
Mrs Felds


Fill out the questionnaire at the end. Give them your story, the real story, of how opioid affect you. Maybe all of us ripping them a new…well you know…will help them see what the article is. A poorly researched pile o’ crap. Pull no punches…I sure didn’t…

I was very disappointed with the article from Consumer Reports at their clueless remarks about Zohydro and Acetaminophen. I wrote a comment on their article telling them these things as well as a suggestion they stick to reviewing bath soaps and cars, while refraining from reviewing something they apparently know nothing about; medication. I keep shooting comments out there, going so far as to suggest things such as, “Any reporter worth their salt would want to tell the OTHER side of the story,”

The fact that there are few if any takers for the “other side of the story” is, in my opinion, all about selling stories. It’s just more interesting to read about drugs and overdoses, mayhem and crooked doctors, than it is to read about someone who can no longer do the things they need to because of the pain they are in and the lack of adequate pain medication.

The media MUST stop slandering chronic pain patients by accusing us of being drug addicts, while never seeking to get an interview from any of the “convicted before even charged” patients they find it so easy to degrade. We have lost out rights as citizens to receive medical care that we desperately need. This is not sexy enough of a story though as the one using numbers from years ago, often proven to be suspect at best, where doctors are arrested and peopled die of overdoses.

IF you want the real story, the story with some merit and personal interest from suicide to people who can no longer work as a result or inadequate pain care due to overreaching laws, overzealous politicians and yes, due to the slant and outright lies of the ever-present media, contact the site below and talk to the administrator, Sheila Kim Purcell. She will tell you the truth, which it turns out, is much more terrifying than what Consumer Reports made up.

See Link for the following page:
“Opposition to Kentucky HB 1-Reform HB 217 aka “Pill Mill Bill”