Pain Patients Get Relief from War on Opioids

By Claudia Wallis:  For More Info, Go Here…

Ever since U.S. health authorities began cracking down on opioid prescriptions about five years ago, one vulnerable group has suffered serious collateral damage: the approximately 18 million Americans who have been taking opioids to manage their chronic pain. Pain specialists report that desperate patients are showing up in their offices, after being told by their regular physician, pharmacy or insurer that they can no longer receive the drugs or must shift to lower doses, no matter how severe their condition.

Abrupt changes in dosage can destabilize patients who have relied for many years on opioids, and the consequences can be dire, says Stefan Kertesz, an expert on opioids and addiction at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine. “I’ve seen deaths from suicide and medical deterioration after opioids are cut.”

Last week, after roughly three years of intensive lobbying and alarming reports from the chronic pain community, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) took separate actions to tell clinicians that it is dangerous to abruptly curtail opioids for patients who have taken them longterm for pain. The FDA did so by requiring changes to opioid labels specifically warning about the risks of sudden and involuntary dose tapering. The agency cited reports of “serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide” among patients who have been inappropriately cut off from the painkillers.

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