New opioid prescribing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are under scrutiny, NPR reports.
The new draft guidelines update the CDC’s 2016 guidance on opioids, which was designed to help doctors make decisions about opioids and pain. After the 2016 guidelines were released, many states passed measures that limited opioid prescribing, and health insurers followed suit. Many doctors became more reluctant to prescribe any opioids. This led to treatment disruptions and patient suffering, according to Cindy Steinberg, director of national policy and advocacy for the U.S. Pain Foundation.
The new proposed guidelines still advise against using opioids for pain whenever possible. When they are prescribed, the guidelines recommend a cautious approach in order to avoid opioid misuse and overdose. However, they no longer include specific limits on the dose and duration of opioid prescriptions. They emphasize that doctors should use their own judgment to decide what dose to prescribe. Some experts say the proposed changes will help address the harms suffered by pain patients.
But Steinberg says the new guidelines do not go far enough to protect patients who rely on opioids for pain. Dr. Gary Franklin, a research professor at the University of Washington, says the CDC should issue one set of guidelines for patients starting opioids and another for those already taking painkillers.