“We’re trying to chart a safer and more effective course for dealing with chronic pain,” Dr. Tom Frieden, the CDC’s director, said in an interview with the Associated Press. “The risks of addiction and death are very well documented for these medications.”
More than 40 Americans die every day from painkiller overdoses, a staggering rate that Frieden said is “doctor driven.”
Under the new guidelines, doctors would prescribe painkillers only after considering non-addictive pain relievers, behavioral changes and other options. The CDC also wants doctors to prescribe the lowest effective dose possible. And doctors should only continue prescribing the drugs if patients show significant improvement.
For short-term pain, the CDC recommends limiting opioids to three days of treatment, when possible.
The guidelines do not apply to doctors who specialize in treating severe pain due to cancer and other debilitating diseases.