Comment Period Opens for Guidelines on Prescribing Opioids

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Doctors prescribing opioid drugs to help patients deal with pain should limit those prescriptions and consider other types of treatment, according to draft guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The agency on Monday launched a 30-day comment period to solicit feedback on the guidance, with a deadline of Jan. 13.

The guidance recommendations urge physicians to consider: whether to initiate or continue opioid use to treat chronic pain; the selection and duration of using that drug; and assessing the possible risks and harms of using the drug. The voluntary guidelines for doctors focus on primary care providers treating patients older than 18 dealing with chronic pain in outpatient settings.

“Patients should receive appropriate pain treatment based on a careful consideration of the benefits and risks of treatment options,” the guidance reads. “Chronic pain has been variably defined but is considered within this guideline as pain that typically lasts >3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing.”

More research is necessary to develop to fill in “critical gaps” within the guidelines, such as what types of pain are best treated by opioid use, according to the CDC.

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