Final CDC guideline aims to reduce opioid prescribing for chronic pain

Guideline provides recommendations for primary care clinicians

CDC wasted no time releasing its final guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain to address the ongoing opioid addiction and overdose epidemic in the United States that is responsible for more than 40 deaths each day.

Increased prescribing and quadrupling of opioid sales since 1999 has helped to create and fuel the epidemic, according to CDC.

CDC’s guideline, published March 15, targets primary care providers who treat adult patients with chronic pain.

The recommendations are intended to drive safer prescribing for chronic pain patients, and are not suggested for active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. There are 12 recommendations for primary care providers that endorse trying OTC pain relievers over opioids; prescribing the lowest effective dosage when opioids are necessary; and working with patients to establish pain treatment goals.

During a call after the release of the new guideline on Tuesday, CDC said it focused mainly on primary care providers because they prescribe almost 50% of dispensed opioid prescriptions.

The guideline promotes integrated pain management and team-based care with other providers, such as pharmacists, and makes reference to collaborative practice models for the dispensing of naloxone.

“Viable solutions to curb opioid abuse will require everyone working together, including health care professionals, patients, and federal, state, and local governments,” Jenna Ventresca, JD, APhA Associate Director of Health Policy, said in a statement.

Experts believe the CDC guideline will be followed closely by prescribers, who might fear lawsuits. Additionally, insurance companies could begin using them to determine reimbursement.

In developing the guideline, CDC followed a rigorous scientific process using the best available scientific evidence, which was published in JAMA coinciding with the release of the recommendations. CDC also consulted with experts and listened to comments from the public and partner organizations.

CDC released the final guideline 2 months after receiving input from several thousand stakeholders, including APhA.


Updated March 23, 2016

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