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What if it were impossible to closely study a disease affecting 1 in 11 Americans over 11 years of age — a disease that’s associated with more than 60,000 deaths in the United States each year, that tears families apart, and that costs society hundreds of billions of dollars? What if the affected population included vulnerable and underserved patients and those more likely than most Americans to have costly and deadly communicable diseases, including HIV–AIDS? What if we could not thoroughly evaluate policies designed to reduce costs or improve care for such patients?


From New England Journal of Medicine, Austin B. Frakt and Nicholas Bagley, Protection or Harm? Suppressing Substance-Use Data, Vol. 372, no. 20: 1879-1881. Copyright © 2015 Massachusetts Medical Society. Reprinted with permission.