Doctors urged to avoid prescribing opiates for pain, according to new CDC guidelines

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SALT LAKE CITY --  For the first time, the nation's top federal health agency urged doctors to avoid prescribing painkillers like OxyContin and Vicodin for chronic pain.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says in most cases the risks from opioids outweigh the benefits. Some argue it's about time the CDC caught up with the deadly prescription painkiller epidemic but others say this guideline will not put a stop to the public health crisis, only make things worse.

“More access means more potential harm,” said Angela Stander, Prescription Drug Overdose Coordinator with the Utah Department of Health.

With 290 opiate overdose deaths last year, Utah ranked fourth highest in the nation for prescription drug abuse in 2015.

“Even if you’re not the one being prescribed them the more that are being prescribed the more access everyone has to them whether that’s through sharing medication or stealing,” Stander said.

Nearly 20 years after drugs like Vicodin and OxyContin hit the medical world, the CDC is telling doctors to give the lowest possible dose for the shortest amount of time. But the new guidelines are just that, guidelines.

“A lot of it is still suggestions we can’t change any of their prescribing behaviors for best practices,” Stander said.

The state health department says the epidemic won't end overnight.

“As far as the time it takes to do risk assessments and more cautious in prescribing and the patient backlash that can cause providers,” Stander said.

With education and prevention, some believe things will improve. Others disagree and say without a safer, legal options things will only get worse.

“It may make it harder for them to get the narcotics regularly but it just pushes them to the streets faster,” said Sen. Mark Madsen, R-Saratoga Springs.

Madsen sponsored Senate Bill 73, which supported medical marijuana. The bill failed to pass the legislature.

Madsen said opioid restrictions will only force people to get the drugs illegally and will not curb overdose deaths.

“What we have seen that bends the curve down substantially and consistently in 23 other states that have medical cannabis as an alternative for these patients that have opioid prescription issues. The opioid overdose deaths are down by 25 or 30 percent depending on the studies,” Madsen said.

The state says they will now look into the CDC's guidelines and how they can best implement them here.


  • Dawn

    The CDC wants to take pain medication away from people with Chronic Pain in order to stop Drug Addicts from obtaining/stealing them & Overdosing? That will not stop addicts, they will use other drugs. Most popular, HEROIN

    • bob

      The same mentality wants to disarm the law-abiding so criminals won’t have guns. (Or at least that’s their excuse.)

  • bob

    “Power is not a means; it is an end. One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship. The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power.” -George Orwell

  • Jay Mack

    I bipartisanly agree with the Senator Madsen bill. These opioid regulations are having the cartels celebrating with fine champagne tonight. The illicit drug use and heroin distributors just got a huge pay raise!
    Oh not to mention funeral directors are really gonna cash in as the streets become ravished with herion and other opioid overdoses. Yes, medical Marijuana must be implemented all states immediately. Chronic pain is a reality it is in humane to deny this choice medication to all Americans.

  • veteran

    I sure would like to live in a free society so I could make my own choice why can’t I have the choice to take medical cannabis rather than lortabs if I decided that one was more effective than the other I should be able to decide either way not to let the government who are not doctors to tell me I can’t have choice

  • Michael

    Have you ever been in chronic pain–injuries that limit daily life–We have the right to have access to pain medication ,( it is a word law ) persons with a life-threatening or life-limiting illness , should have full access. Last year, more than 30,700 Americans died from alcohol-induced causes, including alcohol poisoning and cirrhosis, which is primarily caused by alcohol use.So will you push for prohibition. Are you the same person who championed in medical or legalize Marijuana knowing that the drug czars would change their crops to poppy–When this country stops being a nanny state and holds those accountable for ones own actions will we ever function correctly as a society .

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