Attorney General Kilmartin Urges Prompt Adoption of CDC Proposed Guidelines for Prescribing Opiates for Chronic Pain

Rhode Island – Citing the continuing opioid abuse and addiction crisis in Rhode Island and the nation, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin joined 35 fellow attorneys general in sending a letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) yesterday urging the prompt adoption of new guidelines for prescribing opiates for chronic pain.
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The CDC’s proposed guidelines provide a foundation for prescribers to assess the appropriate balance between the potential harm and benefits of opioid use for proper medical uses. The guidelines provide guidance on when to prescribe opiates and how to safely manage patients on opiates, and recognize the importance of opiates as a tool for responding to intractable pain.

In the letter to the CDC, Kilmartin and his fellow attorneys general cite the correlation between opioid overdose deaths and the increase in prescribed opioids. In Vital Signs: Overdoses of Prescription Opioid Pain Relievers (OPR) — United States, 1999—2008, the CDC concluded that, «Wide variation among states in the nonmedical use of OPR and overdose rates cannot be explained by underlying demographic differences in state populations but is related to wide variations in OPR prescribing.»

«In order to reduce opiate deaths and injuries, we must provide clear guidance to prescribers to assess the appropriate balance between the potential harms and benefits of opioid use,» said Attorney General Kilmartin. «By better informing and guiding prescribers, the guidelines will provide a strong framework for providers, and will improve the access to opioids for patients for whom they are the best choice.»

Kilmartin went on to add, «Unfortunately, many prescribers, primarily primary care physicians and family physicians, note that they lack clear and practical guidance on deciding when and how to prescribe opioids, leading to potentially unintended abuse and addiction by patients. These guidelines will give doctors the knowledge and confidence to prescribe opioids when appropriate, and to more safely manage patients on opioids.»