The clock is ticking on new guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to regulate opioid pain- medication prescriptions. The CDC has been receiving some harsh feedback on its strategy as the country faces a growing number of overdose deaths.
The guidelines suggest that doctors use the smallest possible dose of quick-release opioids and consider non-opioid treatment first. They also urge prescribers to use urine drug testing on patients to determine any other drug use. The omnibus budget deal included a requirement that the U.S. Veterans Administration adopt the guidelines. The agency had planned to announce the guidelines earlier but received criticism for not getting more physician and patient input.
Several members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee sent a letter to CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden seeking more information about the 17 people the agency consulted with to develop the guidelines. Lawmakers said they wanted to see the plans responsibly address chronic pain.
A few health officials told the National Institutes of Health's Inter-agency Pain Research Coordinating Committee that the CDC plan was not backed by sufficient evidence.
Presidential candidates have been vocal about the addiction epidemic, which is hitting hard in some early primary states. At a recent Democratic primary debate, all three candidates said doctors are over-prescribing opioids.
“We cannot have this huge number of opiates out there throughout this country, where young people are taking them, getting hooked and then going to heroin,” said Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.