The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published the final guidelines for prescribing opioids to patients who have chronic pain, though the guidelines still need further evidence for support.
This is important because the prescriptions and sales for opioids in the U.S. have increased by four times since the year 1999. This means there is a serious overdose epidemic of prescription opioids.
"More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses -- we must act now," CDC Director Tom Frieden said. "Overprescribing opioids, largely for chronic pain, is a key driver of America’s drug-overdose epidemic. The guideline will give physicians and patients the information they need to make more informed decisions about treatment."
The new guidelines include improved language to make it more clear how health professionals should prescribe opioids for chronic pain.
"When opioids are used for acute pain, clinicians should prescribe the lowest effective dose of immediate-release opioids and should prescribe no greater quantity than needed for the expected duration of pain severe enough to require opioids," according to the new guideline. "Three days or less will often be sufficient; more than seven days will rarely be needed."
There are now three modified principles included among the guidelines. These include prescribing the lowest possible efficient dose, monitoring patients with caution and using non-opioid therapy for chronic pain that is not related to palliative care, active cancer or end-of-life care.