U.S. Attorneys General have announced their support for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's guideline aimed at helping healthcare providers treat chronic pain while reducing risks of addiction to prescription medication.
The CDC's 2016 Draft Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain outlines 12 recommendations healthcare providers can take note of in relation to three areas: determining when opioid use for chronic pain is to be initiated or continued; selecting opioid to be prescribed, as well as dosage, duration, follow-up and discontinuation of prescription; and assessing and addressing risks and harms associated with opioid use.
The National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) sent a letter of support to the CDC, urging the agency to adopt the proposed guidelines quickly to reduce deaths and injuries associated with opioid overdose.
"The Guidelines provide a foundation for practice, recognizing that doctors will need to adapt them to meet the individual needs of their patients," the NAAG wrote (PDF). They added that the proposed guidelines gives healthcare providers the much-needed direction when it comes to patients who can be prescribed lower doses and even alternative methods.
According to Montana Attorney General Tim Fox, the proposed guidelines also highlights that both doctors and patients having a responsibility to uphold when it comes to prescribing and using opioids.
Sales of prescription opioid drugs have surged in the U.S. By 300 percent since 1999, yet no overall change in the level of pain felt by American patients have been reported.
In 2012, 259 million prescriptions were written for opioid painkillers, a number enough to give every American adult a bottle of pills. By 2013, nearly 2 million Americans, aged 12 years old and above, were either dependent or abusing the use of opioid painkillers, resulting in over 16,000 people dying from overdoses in the same year.
The NAAG's letter was sent as part of the public comment on the CDC's proposed guidelines. With the public comment period now closed, the agency is set to review all the comments it received to help it decide on whether or not the proposed guidelines will be finalized. To timeline was announced regarding the finalization process.
Photo: Eric Norris | Flickr