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Physicians Respond to New CDC Opioid Guidelines

Mainly supportive of guidelines, but concerns include lack of evidence underlying recommendations

MONDAY, March 21, 2016 (HealthDay News) — Physicians have responded to the new U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s clinical guidelines for prescribing opioids, according to a report published by the American Medical Association (AMA).

The guidelines are intended for primary care clinicians who treat adult patients for chronic pain in outpatient settings. Their main goal is to help physicians improve communication with patients about the benefits and risks of prescribing opioids for chronic pain. The guidelines include 12 recommendations and are centered on three principles: preference of nonopioid therapy for chronic pain management; use of lowest possible opioid dose; and monitoring when opioids are prescribed.

Physician’s responses to the guidelines are mainly supportive, but concerns are highlighted, including the lack of evidence informing some of the recommendations; conflicts with existing state laws and product labeling; and possible unintended consequences associated with implementation. Some physicians highlight the exclusion of children from the guideline, calling for clarification that the guidelines should not be applied to pediatric patients.

“If these guidelines help reduce the deaths resulting from opioids, they will prove to be valuable. If they produce unintended consequences, we will need to mitigate them. They are not the final word,” Patrice A Harris, M.D., the AMA board chair-elect, said in a statement. “We plan to continue working at the state and federal level to engage policy makers to take steps that will help end this epidemic.”

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