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Charles LeBaron

Former CDC Scientist and Researcher

For more than twenty-eight years, Charles LeBaron worked as a medical epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While there, he was the author of more than fifty scientific studies published in peer-reviewed journals, including first- or senior- author papers in the New England Journal of Medicine and the Journal of the American Medical Association. He was co-recipient of CDC’s Charles C. Shepard Science Award for best scientific manuscript published by CDC authors. A Captain in the Commissioned Corps of the United States Public Health Service, he received the Meritorious Service Medal, as well as more than ten other individual and unit commendation awards. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Medical School, he is board certified in both internal medicine and pediatrics, as well as the author of a previous non-fiction account of the first year of medical school. He currently lives in Atlanta, Georgia.


Greed to Do Good

The Untold Story of CDC’s Disastrous War on Opioids: A CDC Physician’s Personal Account

When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that overdose deaths had quadrupled in ten years, hitting a record high of 90,000 in 2020, opioid researchers around the country expressed shock with terms such as “huge” and “unprecedented.” They might have reserved a few adjectives since overdose deaths grew to 100,000 in 2021 and 110,000 in 2022. Each year there are now twice as many deaths from overdoses as from breast cancer or colon cancer and more deaths than from automobiles and firearms combined. In the past two decades, a million Americans have died of overdoses. In the next decade, at the current epidemic rate, a million more are projected to perish.

In a series of vividly personal vignettes, this book recounts the untold story of how CDC, the federal organization charged with controlling epidemics, implemented a misguided strategy that helped detonate an opioid overdose explosion. No other book has given a similar frontline, insider glimpse into the world’s premier public health agency.

To provide a unique, first-person perspective on the human consequences, the author chronicles his experiences as a physician prescribing opioids in Appalachia and treating gang members in prison attacks, as well as his own near-death ordeal as a patient receiving high-dose opioids for severe pain. Drawing on twenty-eight years as a CDC epidemic control specialist, Dr. LeBaron concludes that we do have the means to emerge from the cruel, lethal paradoxes of this self-inflicted opioid war—which is really a war upon ourselves.

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