Governor: West Virginia Will Comply With CDC’s Opioid Prescription Guidelines
In a statement released this week, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced that West Virginia will comply with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s opioid prescription guidelines released in March.
The guidelines discourage doctors from prescribing opioids for chronic pain, except in cases of cancer, pallative care, and end-of-life. For acute pain, they recommend limiting prescriptions to only 2 weeks. Also, one of the guidelines stipulates that opioids should not automatically be a prescriber’s first choice for treatment.
When implemented, the guidelines are intended to decrease the amount of opioid prescriptions, and reduce the number of pills being diverted illicitly. This would also reduce the potential for persons to develop dependency or suffer an overdose.
Reportedly, state leaders have been reviewing the recommendations. Subsequently, changes have been made to the prior authorization process to reflect the new paradigm.
Several agencies collaborated to develop the new plan requirements, including the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Services, the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency, health insurers, pain specialists, and pharmacists.
Medical providers will begin attending classes in late October to be further educated on good prescribing practices for painkillers. The CDC’s guidelines will be implemented in January, 2017.
According to the CDC, 249 million prescriptions were written in 2013. That to put one bottle of pills in the hands of every adult American.
Also, opioid overdose deaths quadrupled between the years 1999-2014. The onset coincided after the mass marketing of OxyContin, the makers of which (Purdue Pharma) were later forced to pay $600 million in fines for misleading the public about its addictive nature.
Last year alone, there were more than 600 opioid-related overdose deaths in West Virginia. According to the CDC, in 2014 (the last year available) West Virginia was #1 in the nation for fatal painkiller overdoses. That year, over 28,000 persons in the U.S. died of an overdose.
My fear, as always, is that persons who are already dependent on opioids for chronic pain will have them removed without treatment. This is how people get started on heroin.
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology