Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published its guideline for prescribing opioids for chronic pain in March 2016, pain patients have experienced increasing difficulty getting needed opioid medication due to denials by pharmacists and insurance providers.
More troubling are recent press reports, blog posts, and journal articles that describe patients being refused necessary medication or those dismissed by their treating physicians, who practice in fear of regulatory reprisal.
The laudable goal of these laws and policies is to stem the tide of unprecedented overdose deaths and addiction in the U.S. But here are three interesting facts: Opioid prescribing is currently at an 18-year low. The rate of prescribing opioids has dropped every year since 2011. Yet drug overdose deaths have skyrocketed since then.
Recent data from the CDC suggests that illegally manufactured fentanyl, its analogs, and heroin are responsible for well over half of all overdose deaths. Stimulants like cocaine and methamphetamines are responsible for another third. Deaths related to prescription opioids come next in line, although many of those who died were not the intended recipient of the prescribed medication. In addition, most deaths involve multiple substances that are used in combination.
Conflating the misuse of opioids with their legitimate medical use, and treating all opioids — illegal or prescription — alike is stigmatizing patients for whom opioid painkillers are necessary and medically appropriate.
Read full, original post: Overzealous use of the CDC’s opioid prescribing guideline is harming pain patients