The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proposed to ease restrictions on prescription opioids, but states might balk at lifting limits on painkillers that have fueled the deadly overdose epidemic, Stateline reports. The proposed recommendations aim to give millions suffering intractable and chronic pain better access to the opioid painkillers their doctors say they need. The proposed guidelines caution against starting any new patients on highly addictive painkillers unless nothing else works. For the eased guidelines to be effective, states would need to amend or repeal existing statutes that limit opioid prescriptions to three to seven days and set ceilings on the daily dose doctors can prescribe.
Physicians and addiction experts predict that few governors or lawmakers will be eager to loosen restrictions that were difficult to put in place, especially with the overdose epidemic still raging. “Relaxing those regulations now would wreak havoc on states. They won’t know what to do,” said Dr. Gary Franklin, who as medical director of Washington state’s workers’ compensation agency worked to enact his state’s restrictions on opioid painkillers in 2017. “We’ve made quite a dent in prescription painkiller use,” Franklin said. “But we’ve still got a lot of work to do.” Although the American Medical Association and groups representing pain patients and their doctors would like to see state prescribing regulations repealed, they don’t expect that to happen overnight.