In response to the overwhelming and tragic spike in overdoses caused by various opioid drugs the, Centers for Disease Control released the CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. The goal of the guidelines was:
Improving the way opioids are prescribed through clinical practice guidelines can ensure patients have access to safer, more effective chronic pain treatment while reducing the number of people who misuse, abuse, or overdose from these drugs.
The purpose of the plan was:
…to provide recommendations for the prescribing of opioid pain medication for patients 18 and older in primary care settings. Recommendations focus on the use of opioids in treating chronic pain (pain lasting longer than 3 months or past the time of normal tissue healing) outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care
Like all government plans, these guidelines produced tragic unintended consequences which were documented in this Fox News article.
In the article Dr. Thomas Kline, former Harvard Medical School program administrator, informs us of the dire consequences of these guidelines.
We have a terrible problem; we have people committing suicide for no other reason than being forced to stop opioids, pain medication, for chronic pain. It’s mass hysteria, a witch hunt. It’s one of the worst health care crises in our history. There are 5 to 7 million people being tortured on purpose.
The article chronicled several victims of these guidelines. Here is the story of one of them;
Lawrence, who was 58, became one of an undetermined number among the nation’s 20 million chronic pain sufferers who chose suicide after being cut back or denied prescriptions for opioids. The suicides have motivated many of those who continue to suffer from pain – and family members and advocates of those who took their lives – to call for a re-evaluation of the rush to reduce opioid dosages for those who most need them.
The author of the article discusses the scope of the tragedy caused by the CDC guidelines.
The CDC doesn’t have numbers of those who commit suicide after having their pain medications cut. But most of the doctors who spoke to Fox News said they knew of between one and six patients who took their life after losing access to opioid treatment, and being turned away from other doctors who now see prescription painkillers as a hassle.
Several prominent doctors and pain patient advocacy organizations said they have heard from hundreds who say they have been left in debilitating pain and are considering suicide. The issue earlier this year came to the attention of Human Rights Watch, which launched an investigation.
The epidemic of suffering caused by these guidelines is a nationwide tragedy because:
Either in response to the CDC guidelines or as proactive measure to deal with the opioid crisis on their own, at least 33 states have enacted some type of legislation related to prescription limits, according to the National Conference of State Legislators. Health care providers and pain patients who have Medicare prescription plans are bracing for January, when the federal insurance program will give its insurers and pharmacists the authority to reject prescriptions that deviate from CDC recommended dosage.
The CDC is not entirely to blame for the suffering. Included in the guidelines was a disclaimer. A CDC employee discussed the disclaimer in the Fox News article
We believe everyone deserves effective pain management,” she said. “The CDC guidelines are not a regulation or a law – it’s guidance for providers.”
“It never made a recommendation to take people off medication involuntarily, or to taper down involuntary,” she said. “It was meant to provide updated guidance about the benefits and risks of opioids for chronic pain so that the provider and the patient – together – could make decisions.”
Government bureaucrats at various levels are responsible for the suffering because they have misdiagnosed the cause of the opioid crisis and have prescribed the wrong cure. This quote from the Fox News article alludes to the actual cause of the opioid crisis:
Many pain patients say they understand the urgent need of political leaders and government agencies to fight the drug overdose epidemic. But targeting the millions who legitimately suffer from chronic pain is grasping for a solution that doesn’t address the preponderance of illegal drugs, they argue – or the rate of overdoses caused by them.
This Conservative Review article documents the true cause of the opioid epidemic.
According to the CDC, the entirety of the increase in overdoses above the existing baseline beginning around 2011-2013 was due to illicit fentanyl and then heroin, meth, and cocaine, often mixed with fentanyl. While deaths from heroin and meth tripled and fatalities from fentanyl skyrocketed ninefold. The disproportionate focus on prescription painkillers by officials responding to the overdose epidemic, pain specialists and public health researchers say, is in great part why the drug-related death rate continues to climb while legal opioids becomes less available to pain patients.