CDC Announces SIGNIFICANT Changes to Opioid Prescribing Guidelines

November 11, 2022

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently changed its guidelines pertaining to opioid prescribing. The agency’s new 2022 Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain no longer encourages hard thresholds for pain medication doses and duration.

The guidelines are not to be implemented as inflexible, one-size-fits-all policy or replace clinical judgement about personalized treatment. Further, the 2022 recommendations are voluntary and give health professionals flexibility to support patient care.

In addition, the new guidelines:

  • Offer tips for tapering opioids when warranted, but is not intended to lead to rapid opioid tapering or discontinuation.
  • Include that opioids shouldn’t be considered as first-line or routine therapy for subacute or chronic pain and that non-opioid therapies are often better for acute pain.
  • Replace the 2016 CDC opioid guideline for chronic pain, which had been interpreted as imposing strict opioid dose and duration limits.
  • Are in line with the  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Overdose Prevention Strategy.

Please note: The recommendations do not apply to sickle cell disease-related pain, cancer pain, and palliative or end-of-life care.

The CDC offers a resource geared for healthcare professionals pertaining to the new 2022 guidelines.

If you have questions, please contact the ISMS Health Policy Research and Advocacy team.

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