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APhA backs CDC guidelines on opioid prescribing

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WASHINGTON — The American Pharmacists Association (APhA) has voiced its support of final guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that aim to help prescribers improve the care and safety of patients being treated for chronic pain.

APhA said late Tuesday that the CDC recommendations are directed at primary care clinicians who prescribe opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. The guidelines promote integrated pain management and collaborative working relationships with other providers, such as pharmacists, and point to collaborative practice models for the dispensing of naloxone, the association notd.

In its report, released Tuesday, the CDC recommends non-opioid therapy as the preferred treatment for chronic pain not from active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care. The guidelines also calls on prescribers to employ the lowest effective dosage when opioids are used and to work with patients to set pain treatment goals, check regularly for improvements in pain and function, evaluate risks versus benefits, and taper or discontinue opioids when risks outweigh benefits.

“The CDC’s decision to release the guidelines is consistent with other public and private efforts that aim to curb prescription drug abuse while attempting to balance patient access to medically necessary treatment,” Jenna Ventresca, associate director of health policy at APhA, said in a statement.

The association reported that the Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates the number of Americans living with chronic pain at 100 million, and that figure doesn’t include another 46 million people that the CDC estimates suffer from acute pain due to surgery.

“Given the sheer number of Americans living with pain, policy changes and guidelines that influence treatment decisions will have far-reaching consequences,” Ventresca noted.

APhA recently launched an online resource center to address the challenge with opioids. The association said it’s now reviewing the CDC guidelines and will solicit member feedback to get pharmacists’ perspectives on the recommendations.

“Viable solutions to curb opioid abuse will require everyone working together, including health care professionals, patients and federal, state and local governments,” Ventresca added. “The guidelines represent the CDC’s effort to help primary care clinicians communicate with and treat patients in pain.”


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