Return to www.pccef.org

 

Per Capita Morphine Use Figures Debunk Chilling Effect Myth

Since 1992, ten states have passed new laws against assisted suicide incorporating "principle of double effect" language (affirming doctors' authority to use large doses of pain medication when their intent is to control pain, not to intentionally end the patient's life). In EVERY ONE OF THESE STATES, the year following enactment of the new law showed an increase
in use of morphine for pain control -- with an overall average of 51% increase.

In four states that passed such laws during this time but without
"double effect" language, there was generally still improvement but to a lesser extent (average of 3% increase in morphine use).

These figures should lay to rest the canard that government policies against misusing powerful drugs for assisted suicide have a "chilling effect" on the legitimate use of these drugs for pain control. In fact just the oposite is true: When these laws make the right distinctions between trying to kill pain and trying to kill the patient, they protect life AND help improve pain control.

Per capita use of morphine (in grams per 100,000 people) in states passing new laws against intentionally assisting suicide
(WITH "principle of double effect" provision affirming doctors' ability to provide pain management)

Iowa - passed ban in 1996 (took effect July 1996)
1995 - 935 g - 30th among states
1996 - 1221 - 28th
1997 - 2207 - 26th
1998 - 2029 - 38th
Percentage change in morphine use (from year before enactment to year after): +136%

Kansas - passed law in 1998 strengthening law against assisted suicide and adding civil penalties, while adding "double effect" provision affirming pain control that may unintentionally hasten death (took effect July 1998)
1997 - 2047 g - 35th
1998 - 2016 - 39th
1999 - 2179 - 32nd
2000 - 2560 - 27th
Percentage change in morphine use: +6%

Kentucky - passed ban in 1994 (took effect July 1994)
1993 - 1388 g - 11th
1994 - 1624 - 6th
1995 - 1462 - 4th
1996 - 1673 - 7th
Percentage change in morphine use: +5%

Louisiana - passed ban in 1995 (took effect June 1995)
1994 - 843 g - 41st
1995 - 786 - 45th
1996 - 1058 - 37th
1997 - 1845 - 42nd
Percentage change in morphine use: +26%

Maryland - passed law in 1999 (took effect October 1999)
1998 - 2858 g - 16th
1999 - 2990 - 15th
2000 - 3233 - 14th
Percentage change in morphine use: +13%

Rhode Island - passed ban in 1996 (took effect August 1996)
1995 - 928 g - 33rd
1996 - 966 - 46th
1997 - 2454 - 18th
1998 - 2480 - 24th
Percentage change in morphine use: +164%

South Carolina - passed ban in 1998 (took effect June 1998)
1997 - 1457 g - 51st
1998 - 1625 - 49th
1999 - 1659 - 49th
2000 - 2055 - 45th
Percentage change in morphine use: +14%

South Dakota - passed law in 1997 to strengthen ban on assisted
suicide, adding civil penalties, while adding "double effect" language affirming pain control that may unintentionally hasten death (took effect July 1997)
1996 - 978 g - 45th
1997 - 2132 - 30th
1998 - 1896 - 43rd
1999 - 1880 - 43rd
Percentage change in morphine use: +94%

Tennessee - passed law in 1993 (took effect July 1993)
1992 - 1180 g - 16th
1993 - 1417 - 9th
1994 - 1544 - 8th
1995 - 1407 - 7th
Percentage change in morphine use: +31%
(in 2000, Tennessee ranked 2nd highest among all states, with 4643 g of morphine per 100,000 people)

Virginia - passed law in 1998 (took effect April 1998)
1997 - 2007 g - 37th
1998 - 2106 - 33rd
1999 - 2401 - 27th
2000 - 2587 - 28th
Percentage change in morphine use: +20%

Source of data on per capita use of morphine: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration


Per capita use of morphine in states passing new laws against assisted suicide
(WITHOUT "principle of double effect" provision affirming doctors' ability to provide pain control that may unintentionally hasten death)

Georgia - passed ban in 1994
1993 - 1029 grans per 100,000 people -28th among states
1994 - 937 g - 33rd
1995 - 838 g - 39th
1996 - 1030 g - 39th
Percentage change in morphine use (from year before enactment to year after): -19% (a year later morphine use was back up to its older level)

Illinois - passed ban in 1993
1992 - 811 g - 40th among states
1993 - 872 - 39th
1994 - 880 - 36th
1995 - 822 - 40th
Percentage change in morphine use: +9%

Michigan - passed ban in 1998 (took effect September 1998)
1997 - 2251 g - 24th
1998 - 2540 - 23rd
1999 - 2700 - 19th
2000 - 2957 - 23rd
Percentage change in morphine use: +20%

Oklahoma - strengthened law in 1998 to add civil penalties (took effect November 1998)
1997 - 2097 g - 31st
1998 - 2186 - 30th
1999 - 2137 - 34th
2000 - 2624 - 26th
Percentage change in morphine use: +2%

Average percentage change in morphine use in these four states,
comparing year before enactment of assisted suicide ban to year after enactment: +3%

Average percentage change in morphine use in the ten states which passed laws against assisted suicide incorporating language on pain control similar to that found in federal policies against assisted suicide: +51%

Source of data on per capita use of morphine: U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration


© All Rights Reserved
Physicians for Compassionate Care Educational Foundation