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Research Informs New CDC Opioid Prescription Guidelines

insight Abt helped advance new guidelines designed to reduce prescription opioid overdoses, which cause of dozens of deaths each day in the U.S.
The U.S. is experiencing an epidemic of prescription opioid overdoses. More than 40 Americans die each day from them, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Increased prescribing and sales of opioids — which have quadrupled since 1999 — helped create and fuel this epidemic.

In response, the CDC on March 15 issued final recommendations for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain – excluding cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, United States is aimed at helping primary care providers ensure the safest and most effective treatment for their patients.

Abt Global’s staff conducted a rapid literature review for these guidelines, which involved compiling a consensus from hundreds of journal articles in just a few months. Abt U.S. Health staff Douglas McDonald, Ph.D., principal associate, and Brandy Wyant, MPH, senior analyst, led the effort for Abt.

“We looked specifically at research that addressed the effectiveness of alternative treatments, benefits and harms, provider and patient values and preferences, among other issues,” said Wyant, who presented the findings with McDonald to the CDC in June 2015. The CDC also consulted with issue experts and reviewed more than 4,000 comments from the public and partner organizations.

The CDC’s 12 recommendations – which are not regulations – included three key principles:
  • Non-opioid therapy is preferred for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care;
  • When opioids are used, the lowest possible effective dosage should be prescribed to reduce risks of opioid use disorder and overdose; and
  • Providers should always exercise caution when prescribing opioids and monitor all patients closely.
“This guideline will help equip (physicians) with the knowledge and guidance needed to talk with their patients about how to manage pain in the safest, most effective manner,” said Debra Houry, M.D., M.P.H., director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. The CDC expects to revise the guidelines as more evidence becomes available.

Abt also serves advisory roles with the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in policies and procedures and in their external communications.
Read more about Abt’s work related to opioids: Read more from the CDC on opioid overdoses:
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