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March 10, 1989

Crime Labs or the Street for Drug Information?-Reply

JAMA. 1989;261(10):1446. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420100079027

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In Reply. —  Regarding the accuracy and value of providing physicians with information on drug use derived from street research, the suggestion by Dr Stein is that we are taking information at face value; this is a definite inaccuracy. One might question whether a 20-year-old study would be relevant today or applicable in New York. Although beat bags, look-a-likes, and dummies (terms referring to counterfeit substances used to cheat buyers) are common in New York, those who buy these products are usually inexperienced users or out-of-towners. These items are mainly sold in areas that attract transients (eg, bus and train terminals and Time Square). Drug users are much more streetwise and sophisticated today.From the emphasis on accuracy, it is clear that Dr Stein does not understand the function of our research. Admittedly, many drug users do not know what substances they are ingesting. It would be risky for a