The CDC has just released new guidelines for doctors when prescribing patients addictive pain killers like Oxycontin. While doctors are not mandated to oblige by these guidelines, this is a serious attempt by the CDC to help stop the epidemic of overdose deaths from these drugs.
According to MSN News on March 15, these guidelines recommend that doctors plan the use of opiate pain medication with their patients as far as duration of use. These guidelines do not include patients who are suffering a terminal illness and who are on “end of life” dosages of this medication for diseases such as cancer.
These guidelines are in place in hopes of stopping the addiction to this medication before it gets started from the prolong use of an opiate painkiller. The CDC has come out with the suggestion of supplying no more than three days’ worth of the addictive narcotic medications for acute pain when treating a patient for an injury or painful condition that is not chronic.
The Hartford Courant reports that these 12 new guidelines put out by the CDC are intended for primary care doctors who are prescribing more than half of the opiates. It is suggested that doctors don’t prescribe opiates and benzodiazepines at the same time, which include the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax. Valium is often used as a muscle relaxer, but the combination of opiates and benzodiazepines are discouraged by the CDC.
“We know of no other medication used for non-fatal conditions that kills patients so frequently,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “We hope to see fewer deaths from opiates. That’s the bottom line. These are really dangerous medications that carry the risk of addiction and death.”
Frieden also said: “More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opiate overdoses, we must act now,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden. “Over prescribing opiates—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.”
Doctors are asked to use opiates when the benefits out weigh the risks. The new recommendations set forth by the CDC have a goal of helping doctors determine when to begin opiates and under what circumstances they would continue treating a patient with the narcotic pain killers for chronic pain. They recommend how to choose opiates and for how long, along with how to evaluate the risk and harms of opiates. The mindset on opiate use for pain is changing and moving away from using these addictive pain medications for prolonged periods of time.
The CDC recommends that doctors monitor patients on these drugs closely and and evaluate every three months if the benefits of these drugs are still outweighing the risks. The bottom line is the CDC is trying to put in strict safeguards to ward off addiction and drug abuse, which has resulted in an epidemic of overdose deaths from these drugs. These drugs are considered every bit as strong as heroin.