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Opioid Epidemic Week Part Two: CDC Issues New Guidelines on Opioid Prescribing

Needless to say, the opioid epidemic has caused a major clash of government agencies, drug companies, pain care advocates and other medical organizations.  Some US states have passed legislation in response to the crisis.

In the last few weeks, the CDC--a governmental agency that oversees public health matters--released its own guidelines for pain management.  The guidelines are non-binding but represent a sweeping change to the way pain is addressed in the American medical community.  Some highlights from this policy change include:

  • opioid medications should not be considered "first line therapy"
  • three days or less of opioid medication should be sufficient for most cases, excluding cancer patients, or those under palliative or end of life care
  • dosage and prescribing limitations for prescribers
  • review of dosages and patient goals and outcomes of therapy during patient care visits
  • prescriber monitoring of patient history/pattern of drug usage through established databases
This is not the first time--but of course many of the key players in pain management are not happy with the policy. For one thing, Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of OxyContin® are dismayed by this move. Some others have complained that alternatives to medication, such as massage or yoga, may not be covered by health insurance providers.  Advocates for cancer survivors argue that many patients may have pain even after cancer cure, and as such should be allowed to use pain medications chronically if need be.

And so, the story continues...

You can read more about the CDC guidelines and the continuing controversy by clicking here.

Sources: The Guardian; Wikimedia


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