Are there people in acute pain who could benefit from prescription opioids? Yes.

Are there people who are addicted to and at risk of overdosing on prescription opioids? Yes.

That’s the nub of one of the most challenging problems in current drug policy: How do we regulate prescription opioids in a fashion that maximizes their positive medical impacts and minimizes their risks and harms?

Our most recent Stanford Health Policy Forum featured a civil, spirited debate about this question between Drs. Sean Mackey and Anna Lembke. In addition to being highly interesting, their discussion shows that (hooray!) at least some people can argue about drug policy while still respecting and listening to each other.

[The Reality-Based Community]

Keith Humphreys

Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry at Stanford University. He served as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2010.