CDC Expands Opioid Guidance to Include Acute Pain and Additional Providers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released its Clinical Practice Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Pain (2022). Updated and revised, this new guidance is intended to replace the CDC’s 2016 opioid guideline. While the previous guideline was limited in scope to primary care providers treating chronic pain in adults, the new guidance has been broadened to provide evidence-based recommendations for prescribing opioid pain medication for acute, subacute, and chronic pain for outpatients aged ≥18 years, excluding pain management related to sickle cell disease, cancer-related pain treatment, palliative care, and end-of-life care. Further, and of vital importance, the CDC has made it explicitly clear that its guideline is intended to be voluntary and not to be used as an inflexible standard of care by health systems, insurers, or legislatures.

NIDA Compiles Resources Related to Opioids and Pain Management

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has released a resource compilation of general information and related resources on opioids, including an overview of how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the National Institutes of Health are taking steps to combat it. The resources include a number of national strategies and guidelines to tackle the crisis, including the newly updated CDC guideline (see above), the U.S. Surgeon General’s spotlight on opioids, the NIH HEAL Initiative’s news and research spotlights, the American Dental Association’s new policy to combat the opioid epidemic, as well as materials from CMS, FDA, and other branches of HHS.

NAM Releases Chronic Pain Journey Map

The National Academy of Medicine (NAM) has released a new Chronic Pain Journey Map. The map is a visual illustration that intends to describe the diverse experiences of persons living with chronic, non-cancer, pain. The map identifies five key stages of the pain journey that have critical touchpoints with the health system, with each stage of the journey framed by lived experience perspectives. The map explains what works well, common challenges, and identifies actions that specific health care stakeholders (i.e. clinicians, health systems/payers, and chronic pain community organizations) can take to improve the pain management process.

HHS Promotes Equity through Enhanced Payment for Non-Opioids in Ambulatory Surgical Centers

In accordance with the CMS opioid strategy, CMS will pay for five qualifying non-opioid pain management drugs when administered in ambulatory surgical centers in CY 2023. This ensures that Medicare beneficiaries have access to non-opioid pain management drugs and encourages providers to use non-opioids rather than opioids for pain management.