Comments Requested- CDC Moves To Relax Opioid Prescription Guidance

Below is a recap of the release announced on Forbes. Find the Proposed 2022 CDC Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids here. TPS will submit a formal response on behalf of TPS Members.

Send in your comments directly to TPS

The Centers for Disease Control proposed pulling back some of the strict guidelines for prescribing opioids in a draft of recommendations released Thursday, a move that would loosen some of the restrictions put in place in 2016 to help mitigate the opioid epidemic, in an attempt to allow chronic pain patients to receive more flexible treatment.


Proposed changes to the CDC’s guidance include giving doctors more leeway by slashing dose ceilings for patients and no longer suggesting they limit opioid treatment for acute pain to three days. Doctors would be advised to only prescribe opioids for painful, traumatic injuries, like major burns and those sustained in car accidents, and start patients off on low doses of immediate-release pills, according to the New York Times.

To ease less intense conditions—like episodic migraines and knee, neck and lower back pain—the new recommendations suggest employing treatments like exercise, acupuncture, heat therapy and over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen. 

The guidance does not apply to patients managing pain related to sickle-cell disease, cancer and palliative and end-of-life care, according to the CDC.

The goal of the new recommendations is to help offer patients individualized care and more options for pain management, while steering clear of the dangers of highly addictive opioids, CDC official and draft recommendation coauthor Christopher Jones told the Associated Press.

The draft recommendations were posted online Thursday, kicking off a 60-day period for public comments the CDC will consider before finalizing any guidance updates.

The CDC’s final guidelines are not binding, but the 2016 recommendations were widely adopted nationwide.


While the 2016 guidance helped slow opioid prescriptions amid growing concern about abuse of the drug, the restrictions were “misused and misapplied” to keep opioids out of the hands of patients who would have benefited from taking them, Jones told the AP. The CDC’s recommendations are not binding, but many states codified into law the 2016 dose ceiling suggestion of the equivalent of 90 mg of morphine per day, and many doctors followed the guidance with little leeway out of fear of liability, according to the New York Times. Some clinics weaned chronic pain patients off opioids too quickly, while some practices stopped treating them altogether, according to the newspaper.

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