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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

CDC Prescribing Guidelines Meet Resistance

The prescription opioid epidemic has led lawmakers and health officials to rethink prescribing practices, a move that would save lives. Unfortunately, the fight to curb prescription opioid abuse is being met with stiff resistance, in the wake of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) release of new draft guidelines for doctors to reduce opioid prescriptions, Philly.com reports. Those against the new guidelines include:
  • Public Health Officials
  • Drug makers
  • Industry-Funded Groups
Historically, the task of advising physicians on medications and prescribing practices fell on the Food and Drug Administration. With more than 47,000 Americans losing their lives from drug overdoses in 2014, the CDC decided to step in and make some suggestions. Naturally, “big pharma” would put up a fight considering that prescription opioids generated $9 billion in sales last year, according to IMS Health.

Those who are against the new guidelines, which includes the FDA, argued that they CDC guidelines were "shortsighted" and relied on "low-quality evidence," according to the article. The FDA and other health agencies plan to file a formal complaint. In response to the outcry, the CDC has chosen to throw out their January target date, and have opened the guidelines up to 30 days of public comment.

"We want to make sure we don't go so fast that there are questions about our process, but we certainly don't want to see any further delay," Frieden told the Associated Press. "But there is no way we can wait for better evidence while so many people are dying."

The proposed CDC guidelines were not binding, but rather suggestions which included:
  • Doctors should exhaust opioid alternatives before prescribing drugs, such as OxyContin.
  • Doctors should prescribe the smallest supply of the drugs possible.
  • Doctors should only continue prescribing if significant improvement is witnessed.

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