Rigorous Guidelines On Opioid Prescriptions Are Being Abused By Insurers And Harming Pain Patients, Hundreds Of Experts Say
The attention on the opioid epidemic has been beneficial in a lot of ways, but the new efforts to curb opioids prescriptions leave many pain patients in vulnerable positions, more than 300 medical experts say in a letter to the CDC. Specifically, the letter asks the CDC to emphatically state that treatment decisions for these patients be left to their doctors. This is in part because insurers are using the restrictions as a justification for denying reimbursement claims.
The New York Times:
Good News: Opioid Prescribing Fell. The Bad? Pain Patients Suffer, Doctors Say.
Three years ago this month, as alarms about the over-prescription of opioid painkillers were sounding across the country, the federal government issued course-correcting guidelines for primary care doctors. Prescriptions have fallen notably since then, and the Trump administration is pushing for them to drop by another third by 2021. But in a letter to be sent to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday, more than 300 medical experts, including three former White House drug czars, contend that the guidelines are harming one group of vulnerable patients: those with severe chronic pain, who may have been taking high doses of opioids for years without becoming addicted. (Hoffman and Goodnough, 3/6)
The Washington Post:
Health-Care Providers Say CDC’s Opioid Guidelines Are Harming Pain Patients
The health-care providers, including three former U.S. drug czars, said the CDC recommendation of a daily numerical threshold for opioid use has led insurers to refuse reimbursement, pharmacies to erect obstacles to obtaining drugs and risks for doctors who want to give out more. “Taken in combination, these actions have led many health care providers to perceive a significant category of vulnerable patients as institutional and professional liabilities to be contained or eliminated, rather than as people needing care,” they said in a letter to the agency. (Bernstein, 3/6)
In other news on the opioid crisis —
The Associated Press:
Political Feud Complicates Kentucky's Fight Against Opioids
For every 100,000 people in Kentucky, 23 are killed by opioid overdoses — nearly double the national rate. But a political feud is complicating the state's effort to hold drug companies accountable for their part in the epidemic. Democratic Attorney General Andy Beshear and Republican Gov. Matt Bevin are fighting over Beshear's attempt to hire private attorneys to battle the drug companies. Beshear is running for governor, and Bevin is the man he could face in the general election. (Beam, 3/6)
Sackler Family Faces Art World Protests With Purdue Under Siege
The family behind Purdue Pharma LP, the OxyContin maker facing billions of dollars in potential liabilities for its role in the U.S. opioid epidemic, has been under siege for months in the art world. The Sackler brothers Arthur, Mortimer and Raymond, who transformed closely held Purdue into a pharmaceutical giant, were benefactors of some of the world’s most prominent museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the U.K.’s National Gallery. (Kazakina and Stupples, 3/6)