CDC Updates Guidance On Opioids
(RepublicanNews.org) – The CDC has once again updated its opioid prescribing guidelines in the wake of complaints that changes it made in 2016 greatly restricted chronic pain patients from accessing narcotics. The new set of recommendations, first proposed in April of 2022, seems to give doctors more power to decide on a case-by-case basis.
— The Hill (@thehill) November 3, 2022
The CDC’s initial 2016 adjustment was created with the intention of reducing diversion, making doctors more aware of the potential risks associated with opioids, and helping to slow the rapid growth of opiate addiction in the US. It reduced dosing thresholds and set new rules for how often doctors could prescribe these medications. The rules also appeared to encourage physicians to focus on less risky non-opioid therapies instead.
While well-intentioned, the increased restrictions swiftly prompted concern from doctors, advocates, and chronic pain patients alike. People taking the drugs without issue for years argued that the rules made it harder, or even impossible, to access their prescriptions. Some claimed doctors stopped agreeing to fill the medications altogether out of fear that they would lose their licenses to practice medicine, even if there was evidence that doing so was highly detrimental to patient care. The problem became so severe that the CDC was forced to release a memo warning doctors not to misapply the guidelines.
The new rules slightly walk back those restrictions but are still far from an outright encouragement to prescribe opiates more often. Doctors are advised to exercise extreme caution when setting up opiate therapies and focus on non-opioid treatments first, as has been the case since 2016. But the CDC is also giving them much more freedom to “carefully weigh benefits and risks” associated with prescribing the drugs individually.
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