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HHS Announces Guide for Appropriate Tapering or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Use

  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published a new Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics. Individual patients, as well as the health of the public, benefit when opioids are prescribed only when the benefit of using opioids outweighs the risks. But once a patient is on opioids for a prolonged duration, any abrupt change in the patient’s regimen may put the patient at risk of harm and should include a thorough, deliberative case review and discussion with the patient. The HHS Guide provides advice to clinicians who are contemplating or initiating a change in opioid dosage.

HHS Announces Guide for Appropriate Tapering or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Use

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services published a new Guide for Clinicians on the Appropriate Dosage Reduction or Discontinuation of Long-Term Opioid Analgesics – PDF. Individual patients, as well as the health of the public, benefit when opioids are prescribed only when the benefit of using opioids outweighs the risks. But once a patient is on opioids for a prolonged duration, any abrupt change in the patient’s regimen may put the patient at risk of harm and should include a thorough, deliberative case review and discussion with the patient. The HHS Guide provides advice to clinicians who are contemplating or initiating a change in opioid dosage.  

Rethinking Opioid Dose Tapering, Prescription Opioid Dependence, and Indications for Buprenorphine

The expanded use of opioids for chronic pain has created a population of patients prescribed long-term opioid therapy lasting years or decades. Doses are often above the thresholds suggested in the 2016 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guideline (morphine-equivalent dose >50 or >90 mg/d). Long-term opioid therapy is associated with adverse effects, morbidity, and overdose death; some risks are dose-dependent. At the same time, evidence indicates that long-term opioid therapy confers little benefit versus nonopioid therapy, particularly for function. Opioid use disorder (OUD) occurs in a subset of patients, and quality of life may be adversely affected despite perceived pain benefits.
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