Responding to a backlash from pain patients in the USA, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have released updated guidelines that offer clinicians more flexibility in the way they prescribe opioids for short- and long-term pain.
The new recommendations eliminate numerical dose limits and caps on length of treatment for chronic pain patients that had been suggested in the landmark 2016 version of the agency’s advice, which was aimed at curbing the liberal use of the medication and controlling a rampaging opioid epidemic. Those guidelines cautioned doctors that commencing opioid therapy was a momentous decision for patients.
Parts of that nonbinding document were widely misinterpreted, resulting in unintended harm to patients who were benefiting from use of opioids without much risk of addiction. Patients reported they were rapidly tapered off medication by doctors or saw their medication abruptly discontinued, the CDC acknowledged in the new document.
The new 100 pages of guidance — which remain only recommendations for doctors, nurse practitioners and others authorised to prescribe opioids — emphasize returning the focus to the caregiver and patient deciding on the best course of treatment.
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Source: The Washington Post, 3 November 2022
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