The CDC is continuing to beat the drum about the dangers of opioid use.
It claims that Opioids - primarily prescription pain relievers and heroin - are the main driver of overdose deaths. Opioids were involved in 28,647 deaths in 2014 and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 2000.
In a press release out late Friday, it said “to reverse the epidemic of opioid drug overdose deaths and prevent opioid-related morbidity, efforts to improve safer prescribing of prescription opioids must be intensified.”
The CDC also says while the amount of people reporting pain is about the same, opioid pain reliever prescribing has quadrupled since 1999 and has increased in parallel with overdoses involving the most commonly used opioid pain relievers.
This press release comes out after a particularly rocky week for the agency.
It had to backtrack on its opioid prescribing guidelines after a Washington law firm challenged the process that developed those guidelines. The Washington Legal Foundation essentially told the agency to start over. (Here’s our story on it).
In the letter to Dr. Tom Frieden, Director for CDC and Dr. Debra Houry, Director of the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, WLF charges that “state governments and the medical community are unlikely to accept any guidelines tainted by charges that they were prepared in secret without meaningful stakeholder input and with the assistance of individuals who have serious conflicts of interest.”
A letter written by attorneys Richard Samp and Mark Chenoweth of WLF said in part, “The outcry that has arisen with respect to the current proceedings was entirely predictable in light of the secretive manner in which CDC conducted them”. (Here’s the full letter)
The CDC opened (or reopened) the public comment period until mid-January. Many National Pain Readers have asked how to submit their comments. Here are some suggestions from Terri Lewis, PhD, a public health critic (and mother and daughter of chronic pain sufferers.)
The CDC report sees one clear trend.
“The sharp increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids, other than methadone, in 2014 coincided with law enforcement reports of increased availability of illicitly manufactured fentanyl, a synthetic opioid; however, illicitly manufactured fentanyl cannot be distinguished from prescription fentanyl in death certificate data,” the report reads.
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