FDA Warns Doctors About Misinterpreting Opioid Warnings

The opioid crisis has hit sufferers in two equally profound ways. Overprescribing, misuse and abuse have taken their toll on countless lives, with overdose death rates hitting epidemic proportions (130 per day in the U.S. alone!). But on the flip side of that coin, many doctors have become afraid to prescribe opioid pain medications at all, causing people who are genuinely suffering to go without pain relief. Some even resort to the black market for a continued supply, where many graduate to heroin. An astonishing 80% of people who are addicted to heroin started with prescription painkillers! 

The FDA is finally speaking out about it...

The Wake of an Epidemic

Years of misinformation, pharmaceutical company greed and careless prescribing habits have led to an epidemic of opioid addiction across the country. The most recent estimates count about 1.7 million Americans as misusing or abusing some form of opioid drug. Overdoses kill about 130 people in the United States each day.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began cracking down on over-prescribing practices. The CDC released new recommended guidelines for doctors, urging physicians to find non-opioid alternatives for most patients. In 2018, the National Institute of Health (NIH) doubled down by starting the HEAL Initiative, which focused on studying opioid abuse and searching for real solutions to end the problem.

These attempts proved a little too late for people already addicted to painkillers, and it also created unnecessary hurdles for patients genuinely suffering from intense pain. Subsequent reductions in opioid prescriptions led to some patients resorting to illegal means to continue their supply, and many of them eventually graduated to using heroin. As of 2017, 652,000 Americans were addicted to the potent, illegal narcotic, and about 80% of those addictions started with prescription painkillers.

Addressing Needless Suffering

The FDA has just released a new statement on the matter, urging doctors to find a more reasonable balance in their prescribing practices. While addressing the devastation that continues due to overprescribing, it raises the issue of needless suffering due to the reluctance many patients now face...

In the statement, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D writes:

"Tragically, we know that for some patients, loss of quality of life due to crushing pain has resulted in increased thoughts of or actual suicide. This is unacceptable. Reflecting this, even as we seek to curb overprescribing of opioids, we also must make sure that patients with a true medical need for these drugs can access these therapies."

The statement asks doctors to thoroughly weigh the benefits and risks of prescribing --- and not prescribing --- these drugs, taking into account each patient's situation and quality of life. Every patient and case is different, some patients need and should get opioids, some should not; doctors have to do a better job of really getting to know their patients' situations and histories - 10 minute doctor visits won't cut it. The FDA statement links to a revised blueprint for training doctors on prescribing these drugs responsibly to reduce patient misuse and addiction. It also stresses the importance of seeking out alternative forms of effective pain management.

There may be no quick and easy solution to the opioid epidemic, but finding balance for patients and offering better-informed prescribing practices could be a good start. It’s also up to us, as patients and family members, to be our own advocates by being informed about our medical decisions and speaking up when necessary. Opioids can be dangerous, devastating drugs --- but they can also be life-savers for those who genuinely need them.

~ Here’s to Your Health and Wellness

5/15/2019 7:00:00 AM
Wellness Editor
Written by Wellness Editor
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Comments
There are many steps for pain management prior to opioids being prescribed-less dangerous drugs, massage, therapy TENS unit use and on and on. I hope that doctors would be sure to usse the least dangerous approach as possible.
Posted by Kim
Its pretty sad when doctors are afraid to be doctors , I have been on a prescription pain med for my Arthritis for yrs its the only thing that takes the edge off the pain so I can function , at my last appointment my doctor told me he was going to wean me off it cause he had been contacted that only those with active cancer or in hospice care or confined to a medical institution were allowed to have it , he in fact lie to me as I contacted some others I know that take the same prescription for some of the same progressive illness's , these things are not going to get better with any kind of medication but worse as one ages and this medication at least allows the person to get some release and takes the edge off the horrific pain and allows one to function some what close to normal , if these guide lines are not cleared up as to who is allowed to have this more and more ageing people will turn to street drugs they won't have a choice , these so called " Golden Years " will be spent scoring drugs to help them get through , what good is living longer if its only going to be spent in pain , these drugs were made to help people so why should those of us that actually need them have to suffer cause of those abusing these drugs.
Posted by pinkdiamond357@yahoo.com
THE DR. I HAVE NOW HAVE BEEN USING FOR 22 YEARS WILL NOT EVEN TALK TO ME ABOUT USING OPIOID DRUGS. MY PAIN MANGT DR WILL ONLY USE STEROIDS. I NOW HAVE DR APPOINTMENT WITH THE VA. THE BACK AND HIPS HAV GREATLY LIMITED MY ACTIVITIES. WITH ALL THE PAIN I HAVE IT CERTAINLY WORKS ON THE MIND. TO CONTROL THE DRS. ISSUING PRESCRIPTIONS, THE VOLUME THEY ISSUE EACH WEEK NEEDS BETTER MONITORING PER PATIENT. BUT IF YOU LOAD UP MY DR WITH ANY MORE PAPER LOAD YOU WILL NEVER GET HIM TO ISSUE A PRESCRIPTION.
Posted by jtcrawfordj74@yahoo.com
Dr's need to take pain management courses, know their patients, and use some of the many other pain drugs that are not opioids .
Posted by Edgar Guess MD
I think the pain clinics are owned by the big drug co. and they have learn to make more money. my wife has gone to a pain clinics and they hurt her so bad. I stared to go clean house please don't go if you have a every bad back with nerves damage. stay way go find a real doctor.
Posted by herbert
we need to do away with FDA they are hoping to raise the price on the streets. that's all its about. I need this for a lot of things did you know that it stops "depression, anxiety, and pain" yes you hard me wright they don't want you to know that it would hurt the big pharmacy co. that it. if I was your governor I would take them out of the state. a long with the ATF they would no longer be able to work inside the state. boy what a waste of good money. if you go to a doctor for depression they will give you a pill that makes you tired and it will make you more depress then you are now. and you will stop going to a doctor because you know that they are being lied to by the FDA. and the same for anxiety. I hurt my back when I worked for the county I cant sue them for all the pain in my life and they don't pay for the doctor nor the meds its need 35 years and I have had to pay for everything the old meds worked but the new meds only work of about 3 hrs and you have to take 3 pills not just 1. now you tell me there was a problem yes it the FDA. trying to mske more money on the street..
Posted by herbert
My doctor is scared to prescribe one pain pill. Big Pharm has destroyed everything.
Posted by Ed Sargent
Many years ago a VA doctor offered to provide something for my back pain. I told him if I took something I would still have the pain when the medication wore off. I opted to live with the pain then and I still do today. That pain is a constant reminder than I am still alive and I never got addicted to something I never took.
Posted by Sam Oliva
I am a patient at a local pain clinic in the city close to where I live. I've undergone two extensive lumbar spine surgeries, the last of which was done to prevent further nerve damage. I have severe pain much of the time. The pain increases with extreme weather changes, i.e., extreme cold for our locale. Yes, I take opiods because though I am long past retirement age, I still intend to live my life to the fullest extent possible. I am also have asthma, and allergies to NSAIDS - I am unable to take many of the anti-inflammatory agents. During a recent bout with an upper respiratory infection, I had several asthma attacks that literally scare the daylights out of me. I sew, and have made several quilts, and I'm quite proud of those efforts. That being said, I have been a victim of reduced pain medications since the CDC Guidelines were published a little over a year ago. I have not been able to complete 4 or 5 quilts I had pieced, nor am I able to prepare means for my family because of the pain. I know I cannot do now what I did 30 or 40 years ago, but I should be able to sew and finish the quilts I have started. If I could reduce the pain I am in, I could even make more quilts. I truly believe the CDC has, perhaps, overstepped the bounds. Those folks there have never examined or prescribed for any of us who suffer chronic severe pain.
Posted by Jeanette
I can't believe these doctors who won't treat the patients who have terrible pain EVERY SINGLE DAY. How, in good conscience, can they refuse? They're afraid, that's all. I only wish that these same doctors could experience the worst of that pain even for a few days, so they'd understand what people in pain are going through, how their lives are destroyed by pain. Grow a spine, doctors, and show some compassion!
Posted by Joanne Werick
View all 28 comments
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