Guardian: The US could see loosened guidance around prescribing opioids, as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers relaxing some of its guidelines in a move that could signal a new direction for managing chronic pain.
The CDC last Thursday released proposed changes to its guidance on prescribing opioids, rolling back limits on which doses can be prescribed and for how many days in cases of acute pain.
The agency created rules in 2016 to reduce prescriptions that were fueling the opioid overdose epidemic. But as rules like these were put in place, opioid overdose deaths rose instead of falling.
New laws in several states were drafted to codify the restrictions, and some insurers began basing their coverage of medications on the guidance.
The sweeping actions cut off medications for some patients battling chronic pain and substance disorders, sometimes without the option of tapering down the medications or undergoing substance dependence treatment.
As the sources of medications dried up, some patients turned to illicit substances like heroin and fentanyl.
“You’re inadvertently driving people to an illicit supply if they’re being cut off,” said Kate Nicholson, executive director of the National Pain Advocacy Center. “The street supply is so tainted that you’re really pushing people to a very dangerous thing.”
Fatal overdoses rose from 63,000 in 2016 to more than 100,000 last year, many of them driven by the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl. Read more…