Pain management experts and patient advocates met this past week to begin developing clear evidence-informed guidance for healthcare clinicians on the reduction or elimination of opioids, when appropriate, for those who are prescribed them chronically.
National concerns about opioid abuse and opioid-related harm have driven regulatory, legislative, payer, and pharmacy policies restricting opioid prescribing and, in many cases, calling for opioid discontinuation. State and national mandates to reduce opioid prescribing have, in turn, led to prescriber fears, opioid supply limitations, and abandoned patients. While most practitioners agree that there is a need to decrease opioid use, few feel they have a clear understanding of how to get there. Further, there remains a need for clear guidance on how to safely and appropriately discontinue opioid treatment in select patients currently taking opioids. The consensus guideline produced by this panel over the next year will be intended to provide that guidance to pain specialists and primary care providers as well as to educate patients, payors, regulators and educations about the intricacies of opioid reduction.