Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reassessing Pain to Cut Addiction, the CDC Seeks a New Approach

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Reassessing Pain to Cut Addiction, the CDC Seeks a New Approach

Article excerpt

Guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - the first national standards for prescribing painkillers - are a medical and cultural watershed in the public health drug crisis.

The new recommendations for treating chronic pain are voluntary but should have sweeping effects on medical practices that have unwittingly fostered an epidemic of addiction that has killed tens of thousands.

In issuing these guidelines, the government is for the first time acknowledging that the risks of opioid painkillers, including Vicodin, Percocet and OxyContin, outweigh the potential benefits in most cases.

Among other things, the new guidelines recommend a three-day limit for opioid treatment for short-term pain - and only in rare cases longer than seven days. Recommendations also call for physicians to first try ibuprofen and aspirin to treat pain. The guidelines, aimed at primary-care physicians, do not apply to patients who are receiving cancer or end-of-life treatment.

With only 5 percent of the world's population, the United States consumes 80 percent of the planet's painkillers. …

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