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Opinion: No more ‘shortcuts’ in prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Millions of Americans need nuanced care

Opioids are sometimes the only viable option for controlling serious chronic pain. Misunderstood guidelines shouldn't keep this medicine from the people who need it.
Source: APStock

Declarations from two federal agencies offer hope — and possible action — for people in pain who have lost access to prescribed opioids. These declarations come not a moment too soon for those who have been abandoned by their health care providers or denied appropriate treatment and are suffering in real time.

In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Although these guidelines have been useful for many clinicians, they have been misapplied by individual prescribers, institutions, and agencies, too often causing the kind of pain they were meant to address. Writing in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine, the authors of the guidelines by those seeking “shortcuts” to safer prescribing.

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