The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has stepped in on taming painkiller guidelines to prevent abuse.
Due to the painkiller abuse epidemic that has started to plague the United States the CDC has started to take matters into their own hands by curbing what doctors can prescribe.
The CDC is urging doctors to try prescribing aspirin and ibuprofen before turning to highly addictive painkillers for their patients, as many tend to get addicted and suffer later.
The new guidelines by the CDC ‘ends months of arguments with pain doctors and drug industry groups, who had bitterly opposed the recommendations on the grounds that they would pose unfair hurdles for legitimate patients who have long-term pain’.
Deaths from opioid addiction are at an all time high in the United States. Statistics show that in 2014 almost 30,000 people died from opioid addiction.
Dr. Carl R. Sullivan III, the director of the addictions program at West Virginia University, commented on the new guidelines. He said, “It would be hard for me to overstate how thrilling it is to read these guidelines after all these years. These prescribing practices have been an embarrassment for so long.”
The national guidelines are part of a growing backlash against practices developed two decades ago, when doctors across the country began prescribing opioids for routine pain amid claims by pharmaceutical companies and some medical experts that they could be used to treat common conditions like back pain and arthritis without causing addiction. Those claims ended up going to court and were proven false.
Ever since the court case, opioid ‘painkillers like OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin have become the most widely prescribed drugs in the country, with sales of nearly $2 billion a year’, according to research firms that collect prescribing data.
Some doctors still contend that these opioids have substantial benefits. Dr. Thomas R. Frieden, director of the C.D.C., commented on his stance concerning opioids, which was actually a more neutral approach. He said, “It has become increasingly clear that opioids carry substantial risk but only uncertain benefits — especially compared with other treatments for chronic pain. We lose sight of the fact that the prescription opioids are just as addictive as heroin.” He also referred to prescribing opioids as a ‘momentous decision’ that he thinks has been lost.
Many experts are referring to long term use of opioids as inappropriate and want doctors to prescribe them with more discretion and as a last resort type of option.
Experts are saying that the new guidelines of the CDC will become the new standard of care due to the clout of the CDC. What are the new guidelines? The new guidelines recommend what numerous ‘addiction experts have long called for — that doctors first try ibuprofen and aspirin to treat pain, and that opioid treatment for short-term pain last for three days, and rarely longer than seven’. The current standard allows for patients to get two weeks or a month’s worth so this will greatly cut back on that and help prevent addiction.