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CDC softens guidelines for opioid prescribing

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Thursday softened its guidelines for U.S. doctors prescribing oxycodone and other opioid painkillers (Source: “US agency softens opioid prescribing guidelines for doctors,” Associated Press, Nov. 14).

The new CDC recommendations are an update to 2016 guidelines that added momentum to a decline in opioid painkiller prescriptions.

The previous guidance succeeded in reducing inappropriate and dangerous prescribing, some experts say. But they also were seen as a barrier to care, with some pharmacists refusing to fill prescriptions as doctors wrote them.

The new guidelines are designed to ensure that patients get compassionate and safe pain care, CDC officials said.

A draft released in February received 5,500 public comments. Some modifications were made, but several main changes stayed in place, including no longer suggesting limiting opioid treatment for acute pain to three days; dropping the specific recommendation that doctors avoid increasing dosage to a level equivalent to 90 milligrams of morphine per day; and urging doctors to not abruptly halt treatment for patients receiving higher doses of opioids unless there are indications of life-threatening danger.