The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Issues New Opioid Prescription Guidance

From: Safety & Health

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Issues New Opioid Prescription Guidance

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued new guidelines to clinicians for when to prescribe opioids for pain. The CDC officials have stated that doctors, insurers, pharmacies and regulators have misapplied previous guidance.

The new guidelines include 12 recommendations for clinicians who are prescribing opioids for adults with acute pain lasting less than a month, subacute pain lasting one to three months and chronic pain lasting more than three months.

New CDC Opioid Guidelines

The 12 recommendations moving forward aim to promote equity and informed pain management for patients. The updated guidance also addresses specific areas of focus, such as handling pain relief after surgery and managing chronic pain conditions.

The new guidelines have also been expanded to include additional clinicians, such as pain medicine doctors and dentists. Expanding the scope to outpatient clinicians can provide them with evidence-based advice for prescribing opioids.

The guidance states clinicians should prescribe immediate-release opioids versus extended-release opioids. This change in recommendation comes from a lack of evidence that extended-release opioids are safer or more effective.

Why Did Opioid Guidelines Change?

Experts say the 2016 guidelines promoted a culture of austerity around opioids. Much of the guidance in 2016 was built with the intention to cut down on opioids versus correctly mediating and diagnosing opioids for pain management. The updated recommendations focus on individualized guidance and care.

Previous protocols have also left many patients with severe chronic pain as a result of their longstanding prescriptions being reduced or cut off altogether. The new guidance is intended to undo some of the unintended consequences of earlier recommendations with a greater focus on individual patient care.


The new guidelines put in place by the CDC should create greater and more equitable access with more careful considerations and management of opioid usage. For more information, reach out to your primary care physician or check out the full guidelines here.

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