Consumer Reports Shills Unproven Folk Medicine as Opioid Alternative

As part of a series of June 2017 articles vilifying prescription pain pills, popular magazine Consumer Reports is cashing-in on the so-called “opioid crisis” by recommending 8 “alternative pain treatments” are clinically questionable, but “at least not (quite as) addicting” as those dreaded opioids.

The big problem, however, is that -none- of these magazine-endorsed practices actually works as well or consistently as does prescription pain pills. They are -not- evidence-based medicine.

The predominant reason these folk remedies are seeing serious consideration is because the American College of Physicians — in its quiet desperation for a non-opioid pain panacea — has reluctantly affixed its stamp of approval upon formerly-fringe pain therapies.

In roughly the same order in which Consumer Reports presented them (except for a separation of distinct treatments CR had aggregated under a shared heading), I hereby present the eight non-drug pain therapies espoused by Consumer Reports writer Teresa Carr:

1) Yoga

2) Tai Chi

3) Massage

4) Spinal manipulation (inclusive of chiropractice)

5) Physical therapy (inclusive of occupational therapy)

6) Acupuncture

7) Biofeedback (originally lumped-together as an “additional therapy”)

8) Low-level laser therapy (originally lumped-together as an “additional therapy”)

Despite Carr’s claim, “Many of the 3,562 back pain sufferers we surveyed support that strategy [of using non-drug treatment for back pain],” her bias as a “freelance” CR writer is achingly obvious: The footer of her article admits, “This article and related materials [such as the back-pain study of Consumer Reports readers] are made possible by a grant from the state Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program, which is funded by the multistate settlement of consumer-fraud claims regarding the marketing of the prescription drug Neurontin (gabapentin).”

In other words, a government propaganda program -paid- Consumer Reports to write its hit piece on opioids!

Suspiciously enough, one -cannot- navigate to the website for that “educational” propaganda program — because it doesn’t have a web presence!

Anyone can assiduously search for the name of that program, “Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program,” but /she will -not- find a federal agency page describing it. (If you somehow -do- find one, then post it in the comment section!)

Higher-education-hawking Oregon State University gladly blabs about the program’s insidious dynamic, however:
“The Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program (CPGP) was created to educate [or “indoctrinate”] health care professionals about pharmaceutical industry marketing practices and to provide tools for accessing unbiased [According to -whose- standard?] sources of information about prescription drugs. The program is funded through the 2004 Attorneys General settlement resolving allegations that Warner Lambert violated state consumer protection laws when promoting Neurontin, an epilepsy drug, for off-label uses.”

Furthermore, the official “request for applications” by the Attorney General Consumer and Prescriber Education Grant Program (AGCPEGP) reveals, “Eligible applicants include educators at[,] or affiliated with: academic institutions; non-profit organizations; [or] government agencies” (p. 6).

Here’s the corollary to that paragraph: Only individuals promoting institutional interests are eligible for the money-grab. Regular citizens, such as you and I, are unable to receive any of this propaganda-money to further our own views as to the merits or detriments of particular prescription drugs. Only those employed by special-interest groups need apply!

The cash-grant-for-articles bias of the Consumer Reports propaganda piece cannot be more manifest. Besides downplaying the proven utility of opioids, the CR writers admit they are being paid by a government program -designed- to vilify pharmaceutical drug-treatments.

By contrast, I’m writing -without- the benefit of any financial backing. I’m “just a guy” who utilizes his spare time to write about issues he cares deeply about: higher-education reform (easier job acquisition for graduates); access to necessary pain management (opioids and similar); and a few other topics (of less day-to-day significance than my Big Two).

The takeaway from this blog post is thus: If non-drug pain-management therapies -were- somehow comparable to prescription pain pills, then why have insurers refused to cover these treatments?

I’ve already stated the answer: Because non-drug pain therapies are not evidence-based medicine. They’re folk remedies at best, and little-better than “faith healing” at worst.


Long-time pharmacist / blogger Steve Ariens has shared my Capital Times op-ed detailing why the so-called “opioid crisis” is over-blown by the “lame-stream” — err, mainstream — media. Check him out!