Submit Your Comments for the Updated CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain

The CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control is currently in the process of updating the Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain for the first time since 2016. The Guideline Draft is open for public comment until the end of April 11, 2022.

The CDC encourages all patients, caregivers, providers, and others who care about safe, effective, and informed pain treatment options to submit their comments, which they can do easily at the Federal Register website. Commenters can submit under their name, as an organization, with a pseudonym, or anonymously. Their email will not be shared with their public comment. As of this writing there are 1,693 public comments on the Guideline Draft.

The Federal Register provides an easy-to-use public commenting platform, pictured above.

This Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain provides evidence-based recommendations for clinicians who provide pain care, including those prescribing opioids, for outpatients age 18 years and older with acute pain (duration less than 1 month), subacute pain (duration of 1-3 months), or chronic pain (duration of 3 months or more), not including sickle cell disease-related pain management, cancer pain treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.

The clinical practice guideline includes recommendations for primary care clinicians (including physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants) as well as for outpatient clinicians in other specialties (including those managing dental and postsurgical pain in outpatient settings and emergency clinicians providing pain management for patients being discharged from emergency departments). 

This voluntary clinical practice guideline provides recommendations and does not require mandatory compliance. The clinical practice guideline is intended to be flexible so as to support, not supplant, clinical judgment and individualized, patient-centered decision-making.

Andrea G. Barthwell, MD, DFASAM, Senior Advisor to AZZLY®, recommends “that while the window to comment stays open that as many interested patients, caregivers, providers, and others, as described above, who can review and comment do so. The result of the first guidance, though it intended to make opioid prescribing for pain safer for patients, caused a reaction among some patients and providers that had a negative impact on access to and use of opioids.” 

Barthwell continues, “this 2022 revision is intended to both address and reduce the harm of opioids and not allow unnecessary, untreated pain. The guidance is intended to be flexible but guidance, by definition, does NOT replace medical judgment or individualized, patient-centered care decisions. Following the principle of ‘first, do no harm,’ the clinician working with the patient who has pain is advised to help the patient set and achieve personal goals.” 

Barthwell teaches and believes that opioids alone are never enough to provide holistic care to patients, whether their pain is acute or chronic. “Chronic pain, in particular, should be addressed on many fronts,” she notes. For an example of what Barthwell means by “treatment on many fronts,” see this entry from her personal blog on her journey through a comprehensive pain program.

AZZLY’s all-in-one solution for addiction treatment and mental health providers supports the efforts of state run prescription drug monitoring programs (PDMP) through the seamless integration of E-Prescribing of Controlled Substance and dispensing of Medications for Opioid Use Disorder within a modern technology platform. Schedule a discussion with an AZZLY expert to learn more about how AZZLY’s provider tool can empower your treatment center and meet new compliance mandates.

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Reminder: all comments must be made on or before April 11, 2022.

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