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APhA Supports CDC's Efforts to Improve Patient Safety for Those Living With Chronic Pain

CDC Guidelines Offer Recommendations for Prescribers Treating Adults With Chronic Pain

/ -- WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwired - March 15, 2016) - The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released final guidelines today that provide recommendations for prescribers with a goal of improved care and safety of patients being treated for chronic pain. The guidelines target primary care clinicians who are prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. In addition, the guidelines promote integrated pain management and collaborative working relationships with other providers, such as pharmacists; and make reference to collaborative practice models for the dispensing of naloxone.

"The CDC's decision to release the guidelines is consistent with other public and private efforts that aim to curb prescription drug abuse while attempting to balance patient access to medically necessary treatment," according to Jenna Ventresca, JD, APhA Associate Director of Health Policy.

In its Guideline, CDC recommends:

  • Non-opioid therapy as the preferred treatment for chronic pain outside of active cancer treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care.
  • Prescribing the lowest effective dosage when opioids are used.
  • Working with patients to establish pain treatment goals, checking for improvements in pain and function regularly, assessing for risks and benefits, and tapering or discontinuing opioids when risks outweigh benefits.

The Institute of Medicine (IOM) estimates that there are 100 million Americans living with chronic pain -- a number that does not include the additional 46 million individuals the CDC estimates suffer from acute pain due to surgery. "Given the sheer number of Americans living with pain, policy changes and guidelines that influence treatment decisions will have far-reaching consequences," Ventresca noted.

"Viable solutions to curb opioid abuse will require everyone working together, including health care professionals, patients, and federal, state and local governments," said Ventresca. "The Guideline represents CDC's effort to help primary care clinicians communicate with, and treat patients in pain." APhA is in the process of reviewing the Guideline and will be soliciting member feedback to better understand the pharmacist's perspective.

APhA recently developed a resource center to address the challenge with opioids. For more information, go to

About the American Pharmacists Association
The American Pharmacists Association, founded in 1852 as the American Pharmaceutical Association, is a 501 (c)(6) organization, representing more than 63,000 practicing pharmacists, pharmaceutical scientists, student pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and others interested in advancing the profession. APhA, dedicated to helping all pharmacists improve medication use and advance patient care, is the first-established and largest association of pharmacists in the United States. For more information, please visit

Chad Clinton