A file photo of 80 mg pills of OxyContin.

A file photo of 80 mg pills of OxyContin. Credit: Newsday, 2010 / Thomas A. Ferrara

The front page story "It's Purer -- and potent" [News, March 25] was quite troubling -- more for what was not written than for what was.

There is no question that the approximately 20,000 deaths annually in the United States from prescription drug abuse are a serious problem. But we have lots of problems that kill far more of our people than prescription drug abuse. For example, alcohol abuse, according to the Centers for Disease Control, kills 80,000 Americans each year.

Now we read that some say that a drug that can offer some respite from suffering to many of the 14 million people in this country suffering from intractable, excruciating cancer pain -- not to mention millions more suffering from other painful conditions -- should not be offered for sale because it could "lead to a spike in the number of pain pill addicts."

I have to believe that those opposing the release of a potent and effective painkiller have neither experienced unrelenting pain nor watched a terminally ill loved one in agony, praying for death. It's time to stop playing politics with those who suffer.

Bernard A. Bilawsky, North Massapequa