Senators Capito and Gillibrand Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Require CDC to Issue Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Acute Pain

CDC currently does not have guidelines for physicians to safely prescribe opioids for acute pain | With over 2 million Americans suffering from opioid use disorder, preventing overprescribing of these powerful narcotics is key to combatting opioid epidemic

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) today introduced the Preventing Overprescribing for Pain Act, bipartisan legislation that would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to issue guidelines for the safe prescribing of opioids for the treatment of acute pain. The CDC is currently only focused on guidelines for opioids prescribed to treat chronic pain. However, many individuals become addicted to opioids after taking prescriptions for acute pain. Acute pain includes pain following a broken bone, wisdom tooth extraction, or other surgeries, whereas chronic pain is long-term pain that can last weeks, months, or years.

"Too many stories of addiction in West Virginia and across the country start with patients taking prescription painkillers for acute pain after suffering a minor injury or undergoing surgery. We need clear CDC guidelines to ensure that physicians are correctly prescribing opioids and to limit over-prescribing. To help curb the drug epidemic, this bipartisan legislation aims to prevent future cases of drug abuse and addiction," said Senator Capito.

“As the opioid epidemic continues to grow in New York and across the country, it is critical that the CDC provide guidance to physicians prescribing opioids for acute pain,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Part of this epidemic can be attributed to medical providers over-prescribing opioids, and some people with acute pain may be at a heightened risk for addiction because they haven’t had previous exposure to these powerful narcotics. This bipartisan legislation will help address this problem by requiring the CDC to issue clear guidelines to help medical providers safely prescribe opioids for the treatment of acute pain.”

Senators Capito and Gillibrand have continued to push for reforms to combat opioid abuse. On February 4, 2016, the Senators sent a letter urging the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to issue guidelines for prescribing opioids for acute pain. Gillibrand and Capito are cosponsors of numerous bills that would address opioid use, including legislation that would provide resources for states and local communities to address addiction with prevention and treatment programs.