The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain is being published today in the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report Recommendations and Reports. The guideline includes recommendations to improve patient safety and care for those with chronic pain, and address the ongoing prescription opioid overdose epidemic.
From 1999 to 2014, more than 165,000 people died from overdose related to prescription opioids. Since 1999, prescribing and sales of opioids have quadrupled, without a change in the amount of pain Americans report. This increase is a key driver of the opioid overdose epidemic.
Patients with chronic pain deserve safer and more effective pain management. The guideline provides recommendations about the appropriate prescribing of opioids to improve pain management and patient safety. The guideline is intended for primary care providers who are treating adult patients for chronic pain, and is not intended for active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. Key recommendations include:
- Nonopioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.
- When opioids are used, providers should prescribe the lowest effective dosage.
- Providers should work with patients to establish pain treatment goals, check for improvements in pain and function regularly, and taper or discontinue opioids if a patient experiences harm.
CDC developed user-friendly resources to make the guideline easy for providers and patients to understand and use. Materials for download include information for patients and tools to help providers implement the recommendations, such as fact sheets and a decision checklist. Additional resources available include:
- MMWR: CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain — United States, 2016
- CDC Guideline Resources
- Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA):
- New England Journal of Medicine Perspective: Reducing the Risks of Relief — The CDC Opioid Prescribing Guideline
CDC equips providers with the data, tools and guidance to make informed prescribing decisions. CDC also works with states, communities, and prescribers to prevent opioid misuse and overdose by tracking and monitoring the epidemic and helping states scale up effective overdose prevention programs. Such CDC activities are an integral part of the Health and Human Services Secretary’s initiative addressing opioid abuse, dependence and overdose.