It's Time to Undo the Harm the CDC Has Done to Pain Patients - Drs. Singer and Bloom in Newsweek

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Minnesota has become the leader in restoring the rights of patients to receive necessary pain medications as well as the doctors who prescribe them. It's a huge step. One down, 49 to go. Drs. Bloom and Singer in Newsweek.

After the U.S. Centers for Disease Control suggested dosage thresholds for patients receiving pain medication in 2016, 38 states rushed to pass legal limits on opioid prescribing and dispensing. Even though the CDC insisted the guidance was "voluntary, rather than prescriptive standards," states wanted to signal they were being tough on opioids. So they enacted tougher laws, even though CDC guidelines recommended dosing thresholds based upon the "morphine milligram equivalents" (MMEs) of the various opioids, a metric that never made sense, was not evidence-based, and amounted to "junk science."

Learning that its guidelines were being misinterpreted and misapplied, the CDC published an advisory in 2019, emphasizing that it never intended doctors to abruptly taper their patients from their pain medications, some of whom had been flourishing on high-dose opioid therapy for years, to its "approved" MME metrics.

But the advisory was too little too late for doctors and patients in states where legislation was already in place.

When a government agency "recommends" a policy, it's akin to a recommendation from Tony Soprano; it is inevitably interpreted as a mandate, obeyed by state and federal agencies, health insurers, and even pharmacies.

Over the past several months, lawmakers around America have begun re-examining existing state laws that have strictly limited and prescribed how health care practitioners can treat pain, which is a clear violation of both physicians' and patients' rights.

#Reprinted with permissions. The entire article can be read on the Newsweek website