Since the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released its Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain in 2016, physicians have relied on the document for recommendations when prescribing pain medication to their patients. However, because the CDC did not specifically clarify the guidelines in the original release, many physicians’ groups have been concerned the guidelines were misapplied to the detriment of pain patients.
The CDC issued the guideline in March 2016 in an attempt to curb widespread opioid abuse, which claimed more than 20,000 U.S. lives in the previous year along. The guideline was intended for primary care clinicians and advised them to prescribe treatments other than opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care and end-of-life care.
Three years later, more than 300 health care professionals wrote to the CDC urging clarification of the guideline and suggesting the possibility it is being misapplied by physicians and insurers, and even harming patients. The letter was signed by prominent medical experts, including three former White House “drug czars” who served in the Obama, Clinton and Nixon administrations. The University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine’s Professor Stefan G. Kertesz, M.D., is also one of the signees of the letter.
“We urge the CDC to issue a bold clarification about the 2016 guideline — what it says and what it does not say, particularly on the matters of opioid taper and discontinuation,” the group wrote in the letter, which was also sent to leaders of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions.
In a letter released publicly in April, the CDC said the guidelines were not intended to deny chronic pain patients relief from opioids and encouraged physicians to use their “clinical judgment” in prescribing the medications, which can be addictive. The letter also spoke specifically to the use of opioids in the treatment of cancer and sickle cell patients, making it clear the guideline was not meant to limit access to pain management for patients with these conditions.
Did you know that as a member of the Medical Association, you have access to our new online, OnDemand Education Center? Featured are seven Alabama Opioid Prescribing courses that meet the Alabama Board of Medical Examiner requirements for holders of an ASCS and are FREE to Medical Association members.
The Medical Association’s new OnDemand Education Center is easily accessed through our website, www.alamedical.org/onlinecme. Simply sign in using your Medical Association username and password and add course(s) to your shopping cart.
“We joined this partnership as a way to bring our members the best educational courses available at the click of a button,” said Executive Director Mark Jackson. “Being a physician is a lifelong learning experience, and we wanted to deliver that opportunity in the easiest, most affordable way possible to Alabama’s physicians and other health care providers. This program was designed for physicians who are busy and have little time to spare but who want to continue expanding their educational prospects to the best of their abilities. Our new online, OnDemand learning experience provides an exciting venue to learn from our own courses in the catalog as well as from others across the country.”
Included in the OnDemand package are the seven Alabama Opioid Prescribing Courses, which meet the CME requirements for the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners:
- Mitigating Risk When Prescribing Opioids
- Resist the Opioid Pendulum: Understanding Opioids and Pain and How They Relate to Addiction
- Use and Misuse of Benzodiazepines
- Fighting the Opioid Crisis: The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP)
- Basic Principles and Advanced Concepts in Pain Management
- CDC Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain
- Issues from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners
OnDemand courses are contributed not only by the Medical Association but also other medical associations and societies across the country. Categories currently include:
Alabama Opioid Prescribing
Billing and Coding
Medical Staff Leadership
Regulatory and Compliance
Click here to go to the OnDemand Education Center. Log in using your Medical Association username and password. For more information about the new OnDemand Education Center, contact the Education Department at (800) 239-6272.
BIRMINGHAM – Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall addressed attendees during the Association’s Annual Medical Ethics seminar on Friday, Nov. 17, at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Birmingham and helped kick off one of the largest weekends of educational offerings the Association has hosted since 2014.
The weekend began on Friday, Nov. 17, with Ensuring Quality in the Collaborative Practice and Medical Ethics courses. This was the first time an attorney general has spoken to the participants.
By Saturday, Nov. 18, the room was filled with more than 430 participants for the final Prescribing of Controlled Drugs and Controversies of Pharmacology Prescribing course of 2017. The Association’s opioid prescribing courses began in 2009 and is offered at least three times annually. By the end of 2017, more than 5,000 participants – from physicians, physician assistants and nurse practitioners – had taken the course.
The Prescribing course will return in 2018 on March 17-18, August 3-5 and November 17-18. More information will be available at a later date.