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An Increase in Overdose Deaths Lead CDC to Set New Guidelines for Opioid Painkillers

Mar 17, 2016

U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has set new guidelines due to a dramatic increase in overdose deaths from opioids, according to Law360.

CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden stated, "More than 40 Americans die each day from prescription opioid overdoses. Overprescribing opioids – largely for chronic pain - is a key driver of America's drug overdose epidemic."

Since 1999, opioid deaths have more than quadrupled. More deaths by opioids occurred in 2014 than any other year to date. The CDC also suggests that the lowest possible dose be prescribed when an opioid is an appropriate form of treatment, and then only prescribed with enough pills to last the shortest, anticipated duration of pain.

The CDC reports that Vicodin and OxyContin are not only involved in the epidemic. Abuse of illegally made Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid pain medication, as well as heroin, have also increased and contributed to the increasing problem.

Patients with chronic pain lasting longer than 3 months, or longer than the time of usual tissue healing, are also suggested by doctors to exercise and take anti-inflammatory drugs, for example, as alternative measures before turning to opioids. This does not apply to patients who are in palliative care or are terminally ill.

Dr. Patrice A. Harris, commented that although the American Medical Association (AMA) is supportive of the CDC guidelines, the AMA is concerned about "the evidence base informing some of the recommending conflicts with existing state laws and product labeling, and the possible unintended consequences associated with the implementation."

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