A newly released framework for prescribing and taking painkillers offers doctors and patients strategies for handling the highly addictive opioid class of drugs and alternatives to prescribing them altogether.
On Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control released the voluntary guidelines urging medical professionals to offer non-opioid treatments, to prescribe the drugs — which include OxyContin and Vicodin — in low doses and to monitor patients carefully, the Wall Street Journal reported.
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“If you’re prescribing an opiate to a patient for the first time, that’s a momentous decision,” CDC Director Tom Frieden told the Journal. “That may change that patient’s life for the worse forever. So you’ve really got to think carefully before doing it.”
The CDC has said opioid sales and prescriptions have more than quadrupled since 1999, Newsweek reported in a related article, and an average of 40 Americans die every day from opioid overdose.
The guidelines were introduced a day after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker signed into a law a bill to reduce the drugs’ availability through limits on prescription amounts and allowing patients to partially fill opioid prescriptions.
"We have not seen — and we will not see — a more comprehensive, thoughtful, game-changing piece of legislation in this entire country," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, according toMassLive,