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CDC Issues Proposed Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

By Ronald W. Chapman, II

On December 14, 2015, the CDC and HHS issued proposed guidelines for the prescription of opioids for chronic pain seeking implementation in 2016. This guideline is intended to be used by primary care providers (e.g. family physicians or internists) who are treating patients with chronic pain (i.e. pain lasting longer than 3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing) in outpatient settings. The guideline is available here and gives suggested rules for implementation by all primary care providers. Interested parties have the ability to write comments and submit them to the CDC before January 13, 2016. While adherence to the guideline will be voluntary, it will certainly be used by the DEA and other State investigative bodies to determine the appropriateness of care. This is the government’s first stab at a national pain management guideline and is sure to be incredibly controversial.

Namely, the CDC recommended that physicians consider physical therapy and non-opioid analgesics before turning to Opioids. The CDC recommends short acting Opioids over long-acting Opioids and the lowest possible dose. The CDC also suggests that physicians require urine tests before prescribing and once a year if they continue on the drugs to ensure that they aren’t using illegal drugs or selling their medication. Interestingly, the guidelines appear to question the effectiveness of epidural injections for the treatment of chronic pain. Practitioners must be knowledgeable about the restrictions contained in these guidelines and begin modeling their prescribing habits in accordance with the CDC guidelines to prevent unnecessary scrutiny by the DEA, Federal Law Enforcement, and State licensing boards.

If you need assistance from an experienced health law attorney to navigate the incredibly complex and diverse regulations related to opioid prescribing of if you feel your practice may benefit from an audit by an attorney experienced in the regulations related to controlled substances contact Chapman Law Group today.

More Information:

CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain (Full Version)

New CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines (Summary)

HHS Proposed 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain