CDC Opioid Guidelines – The Criticism in today’s Practical Pain Management


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Criticism of the CDC Opioid Guidelines

from today’s Practical Pain Management

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This excellent journal is edited by the gifted, much loved, and opinionated Forrest Tennant, MD, who we like to count on for not holding back. I missed it in the brief look I did today – this is necessarily sober.

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Following criticism of the CDC Opioid guidelines, please read important information on suicide prevention, below, and how Vancouver has prevented deaths from opioid overdose. At Vancouver’s clean supervised drug injection centers: Over the last 13 years, millions of injections have occurred at Insite and there have been no deaths.

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Two things stand out, on this page of criticism of the CDC Opioid Guidelines. In particular:

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  1.  The heartfelt, pointed comment by Daniel Carr, MD, the President of the American Academy of Pain Medicine(AAPM)

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  2.  Organizations that have criticized the CDC Opioid Guidelines

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Directly quoting, below:

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However, some have not responded to the CDC’s guidelines with unconditional support. A number of criticisms have been expressed by organizations, like the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Academy of Pain Medicine(AAPM), and the American Academy of Pain Management, that question the validity and quality of the guideline’s featured recommendations.

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[Emphasis mine]

The criticisms surround the CDC guideline’s low-quality evidence base, which excludes all data from studies investigating opioid efficacy recorded from 3 months to 1 year duration. This is a concerning omission, according to Daniel B. Carr, MD, President of the AAPM, because the guidelines are intended for treating pain that lasts longer than 3 months. By contrast, associations like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) do accept studies in this longer range.

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AAPM Response

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In a statement released by AAPM, the association said they cautiously support the efforts of the CDC to address the challenges that often accompany prescribing opioids for chronic non-cancer pain.

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“We know that doctors—primary care and pain medicine specialists—are integral in treating pain wisely and carefully monitoring for signs of substance abuse. Abuse and diversion of prescription opioids must be addressed,” said Dr. Carr, Professor of Public Health and Community Medicine at Tufts University. “Opioids are not the usual first choice for treating chronic non-cancer pain, but they are an important option—as part of a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach— that must remain available to physicians and appropriately selected patients.”

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Dr. Carr said that society needs to address both chronic pain and its treatment as public health challenges. This view is endorsed by the National Academy of Medicine and outlined in the draft National Pain Strategy from the NIH.

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[emphasis mine]

“Public health problems are typically complex; well-meaning, but narrowly targeted, interventions often provoke unanticipated consequences,” he said. “We share concerns voiced by patient and professional groups, and other Federal agencies, that the CDC guideline makes disproportionately strong recommendations based upon a narrowly selected portion of the available clinical evidence. It is incumbent upon us all to monitor the deployment of the guideline to ensure that it does not inadvertently encourage under-treatment, marginalization, and stigmatization of the many patients with chronic pain that are using opioids appropriately.

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The AMA’s response:

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“While we are largely supportive of the guidelines, we remain concerned about the evidence base informing some of the recommendations, conflicts with existing state laws and product labeling, and possible unintended consequences associated with implementation, which includes access and insurance coverage limitations for non-pharmacologic treatments, especially comprehensive care, and the potential effects of strict dosage and duration limits on patient care,” said Patrice A. Harris, MD, the AMA board chair-elect and chair of the AMA Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse.

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“We know this is a difficult issue that doesn’t have easy solutions and if these guidelines help reduce the deaths resulting from opioids, they will prove to be valuable. If they produce unintended consequences, we will need to mitigate them. They are not the final word. More needs to be done, and we plan to continue working at the state and federal level to engage policy makers to take steps that will help end this epidemic.”

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Very sobering issues and too many deaths from opioid overdose. Whether alone, in combination with alcohol or other sedatives and sleeping pills, the focus is on opioid dosages.

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The fear is what the DEA will do in response to the guidelines. The immediate reality is that insurance formularies have changed in strange and unpredictable ways the last few months. As always, we may need to adjust dosing as patients age or illnesses enter into an evolving lifetime of care. Be prepared to change the dose, alert to doses that may be too high for their current medical condition, and always alert to opioid misuse, addiction, misjudgement, and mental health. Be wise and do the right thing.

 

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Suicide prevention

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The New York Times published March 9, 2015 on Blocking the Paths to Suicide, rethinking prevention.

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Sometimes, depression isn’t even in the picture. In one study, 60 percent of college students who said they were thinking about ways to kill themselves tested negative for depression.

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“There are kids for whom it’s very difficult to predict suicide — there doesn’t seem to be that much that is wrong with them.

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 Suicide can be a very impulsive act, especially among the young, and therefore difficult to predict.

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About 90 percent of the people who try suicide and live ultimately never die by suicide. If the people who died had not had easy access to lethal means, researchers like Dr. Miller reason, most would still be alive.

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“People think of suicide in this linear way, as if you get more and more depressed and go on to create a more specific plan,” Ms. Barber said.

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Dr. Igor Galynker, the director of the Family Center for Bipolar Disorder at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, noted that in one study, 60 percent of patients who died by suicide after their discharge from an acute care psychiatric unit were judged to be at low risk.

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“The assessments are not good,” he said. So Dr. Galynker and his colleagues are developing a novel suicide assessment to predict imminent risk, based upon new findings about the acute suicidal state.

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In fact, suicide is often a convergence of factors leading to a sudden, tragic event. In one study of people who survived a suicide attempt, almost half reported that the whole process, from the first suicidal thought to the final act, took 10 minutes or less.

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Among those who thought about it a little longer (say, for about an hour), more than three-quarters acted within 10 minutes once the decision was made.

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. . . growing evidence of suicide’s unpredictability, coupled with studies showing that means restriction can work, may leave public health officials little choice if they wish to reduce suicide rates.

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Ken Baldwin, who jumped from the Golden Gate Bridge and lived, told reporters that he knew as soon as he had jumped that he had made a terrible mistake. He wanted to live. Mr. Baldwin was lucky.

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Ms. Barber tells another story: On a friend’s very first day as an emergency room physician, a patient was wheeled in, a young man who had shot himself in a suicide attempt. “He was begging the doctors to save him,” she said. But they could not.

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Addiction

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Let us never forget the curse of addiction, and the profound misunderstanding our leaders make: it is a medical condition, not a choice. The war on drugs must be transformed from militarization of addiction to medicalization of addiction. Like Canada, Portugal and some of the South American countries.

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The New York Times writes this week of Vancouver’s clean supervised drug injection centers. Over the last 13 years, millions of injections have occurred at Insite and there have been no deaths.

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opioid and heroin overdose deaths are preventable. The drug Naloxone, which blocks the effects of heroin, is a safe, inexpensive antidote when someone is available to administer it, as is the case at Insite.

 

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Coda

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After all this, it feels like we’ve advanced a long way into the 21st century. Old stuff does not work. There sure is a whole bunch of stuff that no longer works. Life happened, and moved along.

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This site is not for email.

If any questions, please schedule an appointment with my office.

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only.

It is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment

provided by a qualified health care provider.

Relevant comments are welcome.

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For My Home Page, click here:  Welcome to my Weblog on Pain Management!

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