CDC clarifies opioid prescribing guidelines

  • CDC

  • Kelli Whitlock Burton
  • Clinical Essentials
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Takeaway

  • In a letter to 3 oncology organizations, the CDC has said that its 2016 voluntary guidelines on the use of opiates for chronic pain was not meant as guidance for patients undergoing active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

Why this matters

  • According to STAT News, many physicians sharply curtailed their use of opioid prescriptions in chronic pain cases because of the guidelines, leaving many patients without pain relief.

Key details

  • The letter was sent to the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, American Society of Clinical Oncology, and American Society of Hematology in February, with the organizations made public this week.
  • These groups claim that insurers have used the CDC guidelines to deny coverage of opioids for cancer and patients with sickle cell.
  • In the letter, the CDC also noted that clinical practice guidelines for cancer pain management provide key recommendations for providing opioid pain relief to patients with cancer without worsening the opioid crisis.