Are federal guidelines for prescribing opioids hurting patients with chronic pain?

This month, more than 300 doctors and medical researchers sent an open letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning patients have been harmed by a lack of clarity in guidelines for prescribing opioids.

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As Oklahoma and Purdue Pharma reach a landmark settlement, we look at an underreported result of the opioid crisis: the underprescribing of opioids for patients who rely on them for pain management. This month, more than 300 doctors and medical researchers sent an open letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warning patients have been harmed by a lack of clarity in guidelines for prescribing opioids. The CDC revised the guidelines for primary care physicians in 2016 in order to improve safety and reduce risks associated with long-term opioid therapy for chronic pain. But many say the new guidelines caused confusion and led to the reduction or discontinuation of opioids for people who responsibly use the medication to manage pain related to cancer, multiple sclerosis, lupus and fibromyalgia. We speak with Terri Lewis, a social scientist, rehabilitation practitioner and clinical educator who is running a national survey of patients and physicians to calculate the impacts of changes in chronic pain treatment. We also speak with Barry Meier, the author of “Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic.” He was the first journalist to shine a national spotlight on the abuse of OxyContin.

Guests

  • Terri Lewissocial scientist, rehabilitation practitioner and clinical educator who is running a national survey of patients and physicians to calculate the impacts of changes in chronic pain treatment.
  • Barry Meierauthor of Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic. He was the first journalist to shine a national spotlight on the abuse of OxyContin.

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