CDC Offers Advice to Limit Opioid Scripts

Aimed at primary care providers, the recommendations encourage non-narcotic alternatives or short-term opioid prescriptions and patient monitoring.

By | March 17, 2016

PIXABAY, MILIVANILYAs a means of combatting widespread abuse of prescription painkillers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines this week (March 15) for prescribing opioids to treat chronic pain. Among its 12 recommendations, the CDC emphasized the use of non-narcotic painkillers and other methods of pain relief, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or exercise.

“This does not mean that patients should be required to sequentially ‘fail’ nonpharmacologic and nonopioid pharmacologic therapy before proceeding to opioid therapy,” the guidelines state. “Rather, expected benefits specific to the clinical context should be weighed against risks before initiating therapy.”

Other suggestions include prescribing immediate-release, rather than long-acting opioids, discussing a treatment management plan with patients in advance of painkiller use, checking patients’ history of opioid use, and testing for illicit drug use.

“It’s the first time the federal government has clearly communicated to the medical community that widespread and routine practice of treating long-term chronic pain with opioids is inappropriate,” said Andrew Kolodny, the executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told STAT News.

According to Modern Healthcare, some experts are skeptical the voluntary rules will make much of a difference. “Unfortunately, I’m not sure that the people who are prescribing these medications long-term are going to heed the pretty practical advice that’s provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” Una McCann, a professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Medicine, told Modern Healthcare.

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