CDC’s Opioid Guidelines Are Harming Patients with Chronic Pain, Say Medical Professionals

The role of opioids for chronic pain has been the most contested aspect of the nationwide crackdown on narcotic prescribing.

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CDC Guidelines Harming Patients with Chronic Pain

On Wednesday, over 300 physicians told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that its opioid guidelines against chronic pain have been harming patients with long-standing pain who are benefited from the prescription opioid.

The medical providers said the CDC’s daily recommendation for opioid use has led insurance companies to refuse reimbursement, pharmacies to obtain drugs, and risks for physicians who want to prescribe more.

They issued a letter to CDC, stating, “Taken in combination, these actions have led many health care providers to perceive a significant category of vulnerable patients as institutional and professional liabilities to be contained or eliminated, rather than as people needing care.”

The health-care provides said patients are suffering from unnecessary pain, which is making them use illegal drugs, while some have also even committed suicide.

Narcotics for chronic pain has been the most contested aspect of the nationwide crackdown on opioid prescribing.

According to the CDC guidelines issued in 2016, there is little evidence for the opioids use against chronic pain beyond 12 weeks.

However, many patients have said that they can take opioids for their unrelenting pain without becoming addicted or dependent.

The health professionals, who are experts in Pain Management, have collected anecdotal evidence that has led them to write a letter to the CDC.

The CDC has not yet responded to the letter written by the physicians.

Last week, the FDA ordered pharmaceutical companies to examine whether opioids are effective against long-standing pain. Meanwhile, the National Institute of Health has been studying the issue as a part of its Helping to End Addiction Long-Term Initiative.

According to the CDC, the number of narcotic prescriptions has fallen steeply, from more than 255 million in 2012 to 191 million in 2017. Many states have acted on limiting opioid prescribing.

Still, more than 47,000 people died of a drug overdose in 2017 and more than 17,000 of them from prescription painkillers such as methadone, hydrocodone, and oxycodone.

The CDC guidelines recommend 90 mg morphine or its equivalent as a daily dose for chronic pain. However, the letter issued by the medical professionals said that insurance companies, regulators and others have used this figure for professional standard as well as a threshold for professional suspicion. They urge the CDC to investigate the damage caused to the patients and reconsider the guidelines.