In March of 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released its guideline in an attempt to control widespread opioid abuse that claimed 20,000 U.S. lives in 2015 alone. The guideline was intended for primary care clinicians and advised them to prescribe other treatments before jumping to opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.
The CDC has since been under pressure from healthcare professionals because of the controversial federal guideline for prescribing opioids. On February 28th of this year, the CDC released a letter (written by Deborah Dowell, M.D., chief medical officer at the CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control) stating:
“The CDC will revisit the Guideline as new evidence and recommendation become available to determine when gaps have been sufficiently closed to warrant an update.”
In light of this letter, we could be witness to some much-needed changes for the opioid issue, which is a step in the right direction.
Additionally, the letter mentions the use of opioids in the treatment of cancer and sickle cell patients; They make it clear the guideline was never meant to restrict access to pain management for patients with those conditions.
One of many voices heard, Roy Silverstein, M.D., president of the American Society of Hematology, pointed to people with sickle cell disease that suffer from severe, chronic pain,
“which is debilitating on its own without the added burden of having to constantly appeal to the insurance companies every time a pain crisis hits and the initial request is denied.”
As we’ve stated in the past, even in situations where the medical professional would be denied, other forms of treatment besides opioids should be considered. The CDC changing things around could be a massive win for the medical field, professionals and their patients alike. Patients who have been denied their help haven’t gotten any better, and some have taken their lives because of it. Because of these changes, hopefully now we’ll see more patients getting the much-needed help they deserve.
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