Opioids Restricted even for Cancer Patients

CDC Opioid Guidelines Process Relies on Poor Evidence, Lacks Transparency « ACS CAN

When even cancer patients are suffering from limited access to pain relief, it’s clear this campaign against opioids has gone too far.

There have been incidents where children suffering from the pain of cancer and chemotherapy are denied opioids by pharmacies.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network filed comments late yesterday on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Draft Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain, 2016. The comments express concern about a lack of transparency in the process and the development of guidance that relies on poor evidence. 

Statement from American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) President Chris Hansen:

“ACS CAN joins the public health community in expressing concern about the growing misuse and abuse of pain medication and supports efforts to stem the harms associated with that abuse.

It is critical that any approach to addressing the urgent public health problem of opioid abuse be balanced with the need to maintain access to necessary pain relief for individuals fighting pain from cancer and other diseases and conditions that disable thousands of Americans from working, living independently and enjoying a productive quality of life.

“We are deeply concerned that the process undertaken by the CDC to establish prescribing guidance for opioids for chronic pain has neither been based on solid evidence nor followed rigorous standards for guideline development. Without an evidence-based process there is no guarantee that the draft guidelines represent the optimal treatment strategy for pain patients.

“Guidelines sanctioned by the CDC are likely to be followed by doctors nationwide and despite the lack of evidence here there is the very real potential to erect barriers to pain medication that cancer patients and survivors need to cope with the symptoms of their disease and side effects of treatment.

“As stated in the letter, ‘We strongly recommend that CDC withdraw its draft guideline and instead focus on generating additional data to inform future guidelines as well as ongoing educational efforts on harm and abuse prevention.’”  

As gruesome as it is, I hope that the plight of cancer patients being denied opioids will finally serve to put a focus on the callous indifference and cruelty of those that are campaigning to eliminate any opioid use outside a hospital.

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