Today the CDC released 12 long-awaited recommendations for prescribing, monitoring and addressing the harms of opioid medication for use in treating chronic pain.
Between 1999 and 2014, the CDC estimates that over 165 thousand people died from overdoses related to opioid-based medication such as OxyContin, Percocet, Hydrocodone, and Vicodin.
Emphasizing patient safety, the agency recommends administering the lowest possible dosage of opioids only if a doctor finds that the benefits outweigh the risks of the highly addictive medications. Primary care doctors must also monitor patient usage more closely by conducting evaluations at least every 3 months. If a patient develops use disorder, doctors should offer treatment for patients including medication-assisted treatment.
These new recommendations, which are voluntary, come after Massachusetts also passed into law a landmark bill that limits the amount of pain pills prescribed to patients after surgery or injury to a seven day supply.
Supporters of tougher limitations on painkiller prescriptions argue that supply restrictions are needed to stop this unique public health crisis. Opponents argue that the measures places an undue burden on patients who really need the pain relief.
Andrew Kolodny, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House, a nonprofit addiction treatment organization and Executive Director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP)
Lynn Webster, M.D., Former President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine and author of the book “The Painful Truth: What Chronic Pain is Really Like and Why It Matters to Each of Us”