Sources: Health Policy Institute of Ohio and American Academy of Family Physicians
Federal officials recently urged primary care physicians who prescribe opioids for pain relief to rein in their use of the drugs, proposing new guidelines that call for a more conservative approach than the one that has led to a crippling epidemic of addiction to the powerful narcotics (Source: “, ” Washington Post, December 14, 2015).
Just a few days after a new report showed a surge of drug-related overdoses in 2014, the CDC suggested in draft recommendations that physicians tackle chronic pain with other methods, such as physical therapy and non-opioid analgesics, before turning to the powerful medications. If opioids, such as OxyContin and Percocet, are necessary, the agency recommended short-acting versions over extended release formulations, the lowest possible dose, and short-term prescriptions.
It also suggested that doctors ask patients to take urine tests before prescribing opioids and additional urine tests at least once a year if they continue on the drugs, to ensure that they are not secretly taking other opioids or illegal drugs.
“What we want to just make sure is that doctors understand that starting a patient on an opiate is a momentous decision,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “The risks are addiction and death, and the benefits are unproven.”
Read the comments of AAFP President Wanda Filer, MD, on this subject.