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Papers: 20 Apr 2019 - 26 Apr 2019

2019 Jun

Adv Ther



Three Years Down the Road: The Aftermath of the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain.


Pergolizzi JV, Rosenblatt M, Lequang J A
Adv Ther. 2019 Jun; 36(6):1235-1240.
PMID: 31016474.


The 2016 CDC guidelines for opioid prescribing by primary care physicians have exposed some shortfalls in our thinking about opioid use and stranded many chronic pain patients with inadequate analgesia. Opioid prescribing rates started to decline in 2012, but still remain high. The response from providers to the 2016 guidelines have led to unintended consequences. Some of the CDC guidance seems arbitrary and not supported by evidence (the 90 MME per day cutoff). Patient and prescriber education, the role of buprenorphine (an atypical Schedule III opioid), and abuse-deterrent opioids are not mentioned at all but could play crucial roles in reducing abuse. Opioid use disorder (OUD) is not defined by the guidance which calls on primary care physicians to recognize and treat it. Opioid withdrawal syndrome is not mentioned and tapering plans, although advised, are not described in a practical way. While the morbidity and mortality associated with OUD are public health crises, so is untreated pain. Chronic pain patients deserve consideration, yet emerge as the silent epidemic within the opioid crisis. To be sure, there is much good in the CDC guidance or any guidelines that urge caution and care in opioid prescribing. Pain specialists must speak out to advocate for patients dealing with pain, to educate patients and prescribers about analgesic options, and to make sure that pain is adequately treated particularly in vulnerable populations.