CDC releases new guidelines for how docs should prescribe opioid painkillers

Yesterday, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines on how medical professionals should be prescribing opioid painkillers. Sales of opioid prescriptions have increased fourfold since 1999. Since then, 165,000 people have died as a result of an overdose related to their prescription.

You can read all the guidelines here, but here are some of them:

1. Use non-opioid pain treatment first. As the CDC writes, “In a systematic review, opioids did not differ from nonopioid medication in pain reduction, and nonopioid medications were better tolerated, with greater improvements in physical function.” Other methods of pain management include physical therapy, exercise, and medication such as acetaminophen and Ibuprofen.

2. Review the prescription drug monitoring program to see if the patient is getting a dose somewhere else.

3. If you must prescribe opioids, give the lowest dose possible. “Studies show that high dosages (≥100 MME/day) are associated with 2 to 9 times the risk of overdose compared to <20 MME/day,” the CDC states.

4. Avoid prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines together, as “one study found concurrent prescribing to be associated with a near quadrupling of risk for overdose death compared with opioid prescription alone.”

Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Alvin Baez | Reuters)

Thomas Frieden, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Alvin Baez | Reuters)

Last night the CBS Evening news discussed the CDC’s prescription protocols, sharing how more than 40 people a day die in American because of overdoses on these drugs.

CBS told the story of a executive recruiter who was prescribed opioid painkillers for chronic knee and back pain, due to many years of skiing. It wasn’t long before he became addicted and moved on to heroin.

Doctor prescribing drove this epidemic, and doctor prescribing can help stop it.

Check out the segment here: