AG hails CDC painkiller prescribing guidelines

By Chris Dickerson | Mar 16, 2016

CHARLESTON — West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is asking insurers, medical professionals and healthcare regulators to quickly implement new opioid prescription guidelines outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The guidelines, unveiled March 15, will help stakeholders decide when to initiate or continue opioid treatment, determine the appropriate dosage and balance the potential harm versus benefit in treating chronic pain.

Morrisey supported the guidelines in January with a group of attorneys general representing 35 states and the District of Columbia. He called Tuesday’s final draft another step toward reducing prescription drug abuse.

“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic in West Virginia,” Morrisey said in a press release. “I recognize these guidelines are voluntary, but such guidance is only as good as those who follow it.

"That’s why I call upon doctors, hospitals, insurers and government regulators to act quickly in hopes these recommendations will save lives and prevent others from getting hooked.”

Morrisey said his office soon will announce best practices pertaining to the prescription drug supply chain to enforce the safe and appropriate use of opioids when treating patients while minimizing the risk of addiction and abuse.

“Our efforts and the national guidelines provide new opportunities to make a significant difference in the amount of prescription drug abuse,” Morrisey said.

The CDC’s guidelines include the following:

* Opioid therapy should only be considered if the benefits outweigh risk to the patient.

* Other options should include physical therapy and/or use of over-the-counter drugs.

* Clinicians should establish treatment goals before initiating any opioid therapy.

* Clinicians should prescribe the lowest effective dose.

* Usage to treat acute pain should be limited to three days. More than seven days will be rarely needed.

* Clinicians should regularly evaluate the benefits and/or harms of opioid therapy.

* Clinicians should review the patient’s history of controlled substance prescriptions using the state prescription drug monitoring program to limit any dangerous combination with other drugs.

Morrisey’s office has partnered with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to prosecute drug crimes in northern West Virginia. It also has taken enforcement actions against culpable entities within the supply chain, took part in the DRoP program to aid in the disposal of unwanted or expired medication and has designated a consumer advocate to give substance abuse presentations across the state.

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