New Guidelines for Pain Management

New Guidelines for Pain Management

During 2017 the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency has decided to cut the supply of opiates by 25% or more. This will make filling the prescriptions that many patients have had for the life of their injury much more difficult.

Medication Production

In the U.S. the production of medicines like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and morphine will be cut and specifically hydrocodone which is often called Lortab, Vicodin, or Lorcet will be dropped by 1/3 this year. Relatively all of the Schedule II pain medications being manufactured in our country which are opiates will drop in the production rate.

About 7 months prior to the order being printed in the Federal Register by the DEA, the CDC had published new standards of guidance in relation to pain management for patients with chronic pain. Due to this order many doctors have decreased the amount of prescriptions written for opiates, and in some cases dropped them from their practice altogether, because of the cutback on production and availability.

Before these guidelines came into play the amount they were being prescribed had already dropped quite a bit. There was a distinct decrease of 26.5 million prescriptions between 2014 to 2015 alone.

Press Release

In a press release the DEA has been quoted as to have said, “The purpose of quotas are to provide for the adequate and uninterrupted supply for legitimate medical need of the types of Schedule I and II controlled substances that have a potential for abuse, while limiting the amounts available to prevent diversion.”

There has been quite a bit of political tension over the issue and several senators banded together sending an ultimatum to the Drug Enforcement Agency urging them to reduce the quota of the opioid supply that was being manufactured. This was sent as a type of plea to help fight this issue sweeping our nation.

The senators stated in the letter to the DEA that, “Fourteen billion opioid pills are now dispensed annually in the United States– enough for every adult American to have a bottle of pills.” They called to light the accountability of the pharmaceutical industry describing the use of misleading information as a key motivator in the now raging epidemic of opiates which are being abused in our country.

Possible Issues

There can be unforeseen repercussions when reducing the supply of an addictive medication. The increase in heroin deaths alone in the last 10 years is startling, but it has been long standing knowledge of the officials in charge of drug policy. It seems to be associated with the serious efforts of the U.S. government to fight against the abuse of prescription drugs.

Other leading experts have conveyed uneasiness at the reduction of the legal supply of opioid prescription drugs speculating that it could result in patients substituting illegal drugs for the legal prescriptions that will no longer be available. Spokespersons have been campaigning for alternative treatments for managing pain for people with chronic pain accompanied by funding for addiction treatment.


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