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CDC finalizes opioid guideline

March 16, 2016
by Gary Enos
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finalized a voluntary guideline that officials hope will cause primary care physicians to proceed more cautiously in prescribing opioids for patients with chronic pain. Some groups representing physicians continue to express serious misgivings about the document and its potential effects, even though compliance is not mandatory.

The guideline, which was presented for public comment in December 2015, is limited to prescribing in outpatient primary care settings for chronic pain lasting longer than three months and not in the context of palliative care.

Within the guideline's 12 recommendations, three principles for improving patient care stand out, according to CDC:

  • Non-opioid treatments are preferred for chronic pain not in the context of active cancer, palliative or end-of-life care.
  • When the decision to prescribe opioids for chronic pain is made, the lowest possible effective dosage should be used in order to mitigate risk of dependence and overdose.
  • Prescribers should exercise caution at all times and should monitor patients closely.

The guideline covers treatment initiation, dosing, duration of treatment, tapering, and risk assessment and mitigation. CDC director Thomas Frieden, MD, MPH, was direct in communicating the urgency of the guideline's release.

“More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses, we must act now,” Frieden said in a statement. “Overprescribing opioids—largely for chronic pain—is a key driver of America's drug-overdose epidemic.”

The CDC also has developed materials, including a decision checklist, to assist providers in implementing the guideline's recommendations.

 

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Comments

Why don't we just make it up as we go?
I want the CDC to make all their research public.
I want to know out of the 40 overdoses per day, how many of these people were prescribed these medications?
I also want to know how many are suicides.
The CDC and DEA have padded their research with accusations that all these opioid overdoses were prescribed by doctors and that's just not true.
They also link dependency and addiction together with the same results. Dependency is an actual fact for people who suffer from chronic pain just as people who suffer from high blood pressure have a dependency on their blood pressure meds. We all depend on our medications whether they be for blood pressure, high cholesterol or chronic pain! You would figure that for all the people in these agencies who went to college that they would be smart enough to look up the difference between dependency and addiction in a dictionary.

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