RE-PUBLISHED AND REPORTED BY
NORMAN J CLEMENT RPH., DDS, NORMAN L.CLEMENT PHARM-TECH, MALACHI F. MACKANDAL PHARMD, IN THE SPIRIT OF WALTER R. CLEMENT BS., MS., MBA., BELINDA BROWN-PARKER, IN THE SPIRIT OF JOSEPH SOLVO ESQ., INC.T. SPIRIT OF REV. C.T. VIVIAN, JELANI ZIMBABWE CLEMENT, BS., MBA., IN THE SPIRIT OF THE HON. PATRICE LUMUMBA, IN THE SPIRIT OF ERLIN CLEMENT SR., WALTER F. WRENN III., MD., JULIE KILLINGWORTH, LESLY POMPY MD., CLINTON BATTLE, JR., CHRISTOPHER RUSSO, MD., NANCY SEEFELDT, WILLIE GUINYARD BS., JOSEPH WEBSTER MD., MBA, BEVERLY C. PRINCE MD., FACS., NEIL ARNAND, MD., RICHARD KAUL, MD., LEROY BAYLOR, JAY K. JOSHI MD., MBA, ADRIENNE EDMUNDSON, ESTER HYATT PH.D., WALTER L. SMITH BS., IN THE SPIRIT OF BRAHM FISHER ESQ., MICHELE ALEXANDER MD., CUDJOE WILDING BS, MARTIN NJOKU, BS., RPH., IN THE SPIRIT OF DEBRA LYNN SHEPHERD, BERES E. MUSCHETT, STRATEGIC ADVISORS
CDC opioid prescribing guidelines
In 2016, the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released guidelines surrounding prescribing opioid pain medication for chronic pain treatment. This excludes palliative, cancer, and end-of-life care. The publication intended to improve communication with clinicians regarding the risks versus the benefits of opioid use for chronic pain, as well as reduce the number of opioid overdoses and deaths.
Direct correlations are no longer present.
The guidelines were based on data that the CDC used showing that overprescribing opioids were the cause of the opioid epidemic. This data was used due to a correlation between prescribed opioids and drug-related deaths. However, a new study published in Frontiers in Pain Research states that this is no longer the case. The interrelationship that was found two decades ago is nonexistent today.
The new study shows that opioid prescriptions were declining steadily before the release of the CDC guidelines. The decrease became significant after the guidelines were implemented. If overprescribing opioids were to blame for drug-related deaths, the number of overdoses and deaths should have decreased due to the guidelines. However, the trend of overdoses related to prescription opioids did not change, and deaths related to drug use increased.
Potential causes of failed guidelines
It is possible that the guidelines were unsuccessful because the opioid epidemic was not the result of overprescribing opioids for chronic pain treatment but instead was related to using of illegal opioids. In 2020, the five leading causes of drug-related deaths were illicit fentanyl, alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamine, and heroin. Prescription opioids were the sixth leading cause.
The CDC is currently reviewing and revising its opioid guidelines. Final updated guidelines should be available by the end of 2022.
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