A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Pain patients, doctors worry CDC’s revised opioid prescription guidelines won’t help patients enough

Kentucky Health News

Opioid prescriptions in the U.S. have fallen more than 40 percent over the past decade in response to the opioid overdose and addiction crisis. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has played a role in that by encouraging doctors to prescribe fewer painkillers, but that has made it more difficult for patients with chronic pain to get the medication they need.

The CDC has drafted a new version, on which the public-comment period just ended, “but some worry it doesn’t protect patients enough,” Will Stone reports for NPR.

New CDC guidelines in 2016 encouraged doctors to be wary of opioid addiction and advised them to start at a low dose and avoid prescribing high doses.

Amanda Votta, a Rhode Island graduate student who has rheumatoid arthritis, told Stone that it became much harder for her to get any kind of opioid prescription at all, and that she was often in great pain.

“There’s broad agreement now that the 2016 guidelines were misapplied to pain patients like Votta,” Stone reports.

Dr. Roger Chou, who helped write the 2016 guidelines, told Stone the guidelines were only meant to guide doctors, not stop them from prescribing appropriate medication to patients with chronic pain.

The CDC’s new prescribing guidelines show promise, some experts say.

“The top-line recommendations no longer include specifics about the dose or duration a patient shouldn’t exceed when taking opioids. The draft also warns upfront that the guidelines should not be used as inflexible standards of care,” Stone reports. But the lack of specific guidance could make some doctors uncomfortable and cause them to stop prescribing opioids at all, another expert said.

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  1. Steve says:

    This is nonsense.peeps with real problems can’t get what they need and as cdc makes us aware of folks buy illegal drugs because docs only caring about their licenses….Veterans commit suicide every day from non treatment of their pain.
    Or docs give such a low dose it does nothing…

    And the term opioid addiction and deaths also includes all illegal substances obtained by patients because of the lack of proper care.

  2. Jack says:

    What are the credentials of Dr. Roger Chou? So many so called doctors are telling highly educated pain management doctors how to prescribe medications to their patients. This is absurd!
    No two patients in pain can possibly take the exact medication & get relief. I have known many people who have severe nerve pain and taking 140 mg of what would be morphine does not provide enough pain relief. He has high blood pressure and anxiety. It’s a constant vicious cycle of severe chronic pain, anxiety, depression and high blood pressure. Quality of life has been greatly reduced. It’s horrific that the American Pain Management doctors can not affectively do their job that they were sworn in to do. Stop penalizing Pain Patients for the actions of society who take illegal medications.

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