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Washington Highlights

CDC Finalizes Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids

March 18, 2016—The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) March 15 released guidelines for primary care physicians prescribing opioids in the outpatient setting for adults with chronic pain outside of “active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.”

The new CDC guidelines are a response to the growing opioid epidemic. The CDC estimates that “20 percent of patients with non-cancer pain symptoms or pain-related diagnoses receive an opioid prescription.” The CDC noted that the guidelines are intended to “improve communication between clinicians and patients about the risks and benefits of opioid therapy for chronic pain” and improve the safety of pain management.

Specifically, the guidelines address: “when to initiate or continue opioid therapy for chronic pain; opioid selection, dosage, duration, follow-up, and discontinuation, and; assessing risk and addressing the harms of opioid use.”

The CDC released proposed prescriber guidelines for public comment in late 2015 [see Washington Highlights, Dec. 18, 2015].


Tannaz Rasouli
Sr. Director, Public Policy & Strategic Outreach
Telephone: 202-828-0525


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