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Reply #132: The lethal dose of codeine [View All]

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factcheckr Donating Member (16 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-03-08 12:07 AM
Response to Reply #101
132. The lethal dose of codeine
Technically, the LD50 of a drug is not the "dose that kills 50% of people". It could more accurately be described as the number of milligrams per kilogram of body weight that kills half of all rats. It would be very hard to design an ethical scientific study to determine how much codeine it takes to kill half of all people. The lethal dose for humans is extrapolated by taking the experimental animal data and allowing for the average weight of a human. Additional limited, but useful, data on a drug's toxicity to humans, and thus the validity of these extrapolations, is often gained by studying actual cases of overdoses in humans, both accidental and deliberate. Not surprisingly, in the case of the opiates, this opportunity comes along all too often.

Perhaps the "50% of people" phrase was used for the sake of brevity. In any case, it's obvious from this post that Ivins' cause of death warrants further investigation.

Another crucial lesson to be learned from all this is that newspaper stories citing "court documents" as proof of a person's mental state or possible guilt should immediately prompt the question: what documents? Far from having the gravity that the term "court document" suggests, this document seems to be a request for a restraining order written by an alleged therapist who can spell the word "subpoena" but not the word "therapist", and makes an unsubstantiated claim about a psychiatric diagnosis that is pure heresay.
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