Guidelines for prescribing opioids up for revision

Published: Feb. 15, 2022 at 9:52 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - Many people suffer from chronic pain, maybe after knee surgery or a fall.

The CDC recently proposed changes to the guidelines for prescribing opioids for that pain.

The new guidelines are still in draft format, but these are the first revisions to the guidelines since 2016.

Tuesday, I spoke with Dr. Calin Savu, a pain medicine specialist for the Pain Center of Jonesboro. He specializes in treating patients with chronic pain.

He said the 12 new recommendations in the guidelines from the CDC are not much different from the previous guidelines.

He explained how each recommendation gives him more flexibility with patients.

“The other one is to discuss with the patients about what is to be expected from the treatment itself,” said Savu.

At his office, he has worked to use other treatments for his patients before opioids.

Certain types of therapy are preferred before prescribing drugs in the new guidelines.

“Jogging, I want you to start doing some weightlifting, and in two months we are going to start decreasing your dosage by 20 percent,” he said.

Cavu said the new guidelines also eliminate the one-size dose fits all notion the 2016 guidelines set.

Now, the CDC says it’s up to the physician, but they should be careful with going over certain dosage levels.

“[The guidelines imply] you have to be careful, but we [CDC] are not going to be so stringent about that 90-milligram border,” he said.

After the 2016 guidelines, physicians were strict on prescribing opioids. According to Savu, this did not help people in pain.

“At that time, they decided to get their stuff from where it was available... which was the streets,” he said.

Other aspects of the new guidelines include keeping up with how the opioid is working for the patient and using short-acting opioids that work quicker rather than long-acting ones that take longer to work.

The guidelines are open for public comment in the federal register right now.

It will be open for 60 days, and then the C-D-C will review those and make final changes to the guidelines.

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