CDC Releases Guidelines for Doctors Designed to Reduce Opioid Prescribing


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines Tuesday that recommend primary care providers avoid prescribing opioid painkillers for patients with chronic pain, according to USA Today. The risks from opioids greatly outweigh the benefits for most people, the CDC says.

Primary care providers write nearly half of all opioid prescriptions, according to the CDC. The new guidelines are designed for primary care doctors who treat adult patients for chronic pain in outpatient settings. They are not meant for guiding treatment of patients in active cancer treatment, palliative care, or end-of-life care, the agency said.

Doctors who determine that opioid painkillers are needed should prescribe the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time, the guidelines state.

“More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses, we must act now,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, MD, MPH, said in a news release. “Overprescribing opioids—largely for chronic pain—is a key driver of America’s drug-overdose epidemic. The guideline will give physicians and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment.”

Frieden noted that many prescription opioids are as addictive as heroin, and poorly control chronic pain. He said doctors should first try therapies other than opioids, including exercise or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as aspirin or ibuprofen.

Physicians are not legally required to follow the recommendations, the article notes. The guidelines provide advice on when doctors should begin or continue opioids for chronic pain, which types of opioids to choose, how long to prescribe them, and how to determine their risks.

Andrew Kolodny, Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, said the guidelines are a “game changer” that doctors are likely to follow. “For the first time, the federal government is communicating clearly that the widespread practice of treating common pain conditions with long-term opioids is inappropriate,” he said.

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    July 11, 2016 at 1:49 PM

    Should we be forced into surgeries that may or may not be for everyone only to be under treated for pain again. It’s obviously not a good direction for Chronic Pain patients. If the CDC thinks this is gonna thwart overdose deaths boy are they wrong. It’s only gonna create more death destruction. Get ready the Illegal drug use is about to hit an All time high. Whose responsible for that? CDC.

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    Terry Lerma

    June 29, 2016 at 12:15 PM

    FIRST, make alternatives a covered, availble alternative – and include acupuncture, guided exercise programs/gym memberships, meditation, etc. all of which are woefully unavailable in many areas.

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    Nsn Deegan Putnam

    June 19, 2016 at 5:07 PM

    Last summer I exercised, swam, and enjoyed going to the lake to swim. Now due to the fear of some doctors that chronic pain persons all must be abusing drugs, I refused to agree to not having an occasional drink I am cut off from 10 mg of oxycontin 3 to 4 daily as needed and a 25 mg of fentynal patch every 72 hrs. I can’t get up from a normal chair without extreme pain, I can’t bend over to pick up a dropped dime without extreme pain and forget long walks or shopping without riding in a cart. My pain keeps me inactive and forget a good night’s rest. I am not an addict and I have not abused pain meds nor alcohol. I have osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and a hip and knee replacement. I should not be punished for other people’s lack of self control. Get the government off our backs and let me have my life back without treating me as a criminal on probation for DUI or drug dealing!

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