ASA applauds CDC acknowledgement of misinterpretation of opioid prescribing guideline

May 1, 2019

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) is pleased with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) article published in the New England Journal of Medicine acknowledging problems with the agency’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. ASA has been a longtime advocate for the Guideline and was involved in its review and development in 2016.

As it became apparent that the Guideline was being used to develop policies beyond those meant for primary care providers treating chronic pain patients, ASA has advocated for the review and revision of the Guideline with updated evidence to improve patient care and recognize the importance of individualized patient care.

"Today's article is an important step by the CDC in acknowledging the confusion that has arisen from the opioid prescribing guideline. ASA is hopeful that this results in efforts to clarify and modify these federal recommendations with updated evidence for patient safety," said ASA President Linda Mason, MD, FASA.  "During the opioid epidemic, it is imperative that we recognize the difference between acute and chronic pain and rely on experts in pain medicine like physician anesthesiologists to ensure proper pain care while recognizing the dangers of opioid misuse and abuse."

ASA is pleased that the CDC has acknowledged that the Guideline has been misapplied to patient populations beyond the scope of the guidance and resulted in patient barriers, including lack of access to medications being appropriately prescribed for their conditions. ASA also believes the Guideline has been problematic when dosage thresholds or prescription limits have been enacted.

ASA’s position aligns with draft recommendations from the Health and Human Services (HHS) Interagency Pain Task Force to review and revise the CDC Guideline with updated evidence.

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