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CDC Releases New Opioid Prescription Guidelines

Painkillers, Heroin Major Contributors In Wisconsin Drug Deaths

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Just days after federal officials announced grants to fight addiction to prescription painkillers and heroin, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came out this week with suggested guidelines for doctors who prescribe opioids.

The CDC is making suggestions it hopes insurance companies, states and health systems will adopt, but agency Director Tom Frieden said, “To be clear, we are not a regulatory agency. So they are guidelines, recommendations.”

He said the goal is to reduce overdose deaths. In Wisconsin, there were 843 drug overdose deaths in 2013. The leading cause was prescription painkillers like oxycodone, hydrocodone and methadone, while more than 25 percent of deaths were linked to heroin.

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The CDC has 12 recommendations for those prescribing opioids. Among their suggestions: use the smallest supply and dose possible closely monitor patients, and suggest alternative pain treatments.

The guidelines to reduce opioid use are not meant to apply to those in cancer treatment, palliative care or end-of-life care.

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