Florida Department of Health Rejects CDC’s New Opioid Guidelines – Update Flor

Dr.  Kenneth A. Scheppke.jpg

Florida Department of Health


Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke

Florida – Tuesday, November 22, 2022: The Florida Department of Health rejected the CDC’s new opioid prescribing guidelines, citing the ongoing opioid crisis and the recent “lethal fentanyl explosion.”

In early November, the CDC updated its Clinical Practice Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Pain, softening its previous strict guidelines by noting that “opioids can be essential medications for pain management” while noting that they “carry significant potential risk.”

In a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal, published Monday, Nov. 21, Florida Deputy Health Secretary Dr. Kenneth A. Scheppke wrote that “opioid use disorder is a chronic, life-threatening disease that people contract through exposure to opioids. , either illegal or prescribed by a doctor” and “now is not the time for the CDC to relax its opioid recommendations”.

Dr. Scheppke pointed out that “more Americans between the ages of 18 and 45 died from overdoses in 2020 than from car accidents and suicides combined” and questions why “the new report overturns common sense advice and minimizes the clear and proven dangers of opioids.”

READ THE LETTER FROM Dr. Scheppke to the editor of the Wall Street Journal in FULL below:

ICYMI: Florida rejects CDC’s new opioid guidelines The agency calls them “necessary” for pain management and recognizes only “potential” risks.

The Wall Street Journal Kenneth A. Scheppke Nov 21, 2022 6:51 pm ET

The U.S. has been dealing with an opioid crisis for nearly two decades.

In 2020, more than 90,000 Americans died of drug overdoses, with 75% involving opioids. In 2020, more Americans aged 18 to 45 died from drug overdoses than from car accidents and suicides combined.

Opioid use disorder is a chronic, life-threatening disease that people contract from exposure to opioids, whether illicit or prescribed by a doctor. In recognition of this, in 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlighted the risks of overprescribing and the need to limit opioid prescribing to three days for acute pain. Doctors also recommended that they avoid increasing the dose above 90 milligrams of morphine per day.

Still, in early November, the CDC updated its Clinical Practice Guidelines for Prescribing Opioids for Pain. The updated guidelines reject limiting opioid treatment to three days and cancel the dosing recommendations. A 2022 companion report even says, “Opioids may be essential medications for pain management; however, they carry significant potential risk.’

“Potential risk? A 2016 report described opioids as having “serious risks, including overdose and opioid use disorder.” There’s nothing potential about that. While opioids may be necessary for critical conditions and end-of-life care, broad the public should not be told that they are “necessary” to treat pain.

Many health professionals who entered the practice in recent decades will identify with episodes of the Hulu series “Dopesick,” which tells the story of the dark years before the dangers of opioids were understood. Over-prescribing of opioids has led to dependence and addiction to illegal drugs. In one study, 80% of heroin users reported starting with prescription opioids. I suspect many doctors will wonder why the new report overrules sound advice and minimizes the clear and proven dangers of opioids.

In Florida, we have made great strides in understanding this disease and the need for non-opioid pain management options. Our state has taken aggressive steps to combat the deadly opioid crisis through evidence-based treatment while ensuring that those who knowingly contribute to the spread of this disease are held accountable.

Yet our state has seen an explosion of deadly fentanyl as a replacement for older illegal opioids and as an ingredient in many other street drugs. Since 2015, the number of fentanyl overdose deaths in Florida has increased by 790%.

In response to these alarming statistics, Governor Ron DeSantis signed legislation earlier this year increasing the penalties for criminals selling this poison in our communities and developed Florida’s Coordinated Opioid Recovery, or CORE, network to help victims of substance use disorder.

CORE Network recognizes substance use disorder as a chronic, lifelong illness. Overdose is a symptom of this disease. The CORE Network connects overdose cases with long-term sustainable recovery resources to disrupt the revolving door of overdose and recovery among people with substance use disorders. The CORE Network connects emergency medical services with long-term sustainable recovery resources. If someone in the CORE region is overdosing, the 911 protocol will initiate stabilization while transporting the patient to a specialty hospital with experience in addiction medicine. Once all immediate health threats are stabilized, the patient’s long-term health care needs are identified and supported. Patients are then connected to organizations that support sustainable recovery, including access to drug treatment, primary care, dental care, workforce development and more.

The CORE Network does not require an overdose to access sustainable care services and provides resources to receive customized, evidence-based care to support lifelong recovery. Florida is working continuously to expand this treatment model as the standard of care for recovery. The nation has taken steps to address this man-made opioid addiction disaster, with a substantial portion of the blame placed squarely on pharmaceutical companies. With approximately $50 billion in global opioid recovery settlement funds, we are on track to get the resources we need to end this deadly epidemic.

Greed caused the opioid crisis. The healthcare system has been led to believe that these drugs are safe. Pharmaceutical companies fraudulently convinced governments of safety. Patients were over-prescribed these substances, leading to devastating consequences. We are starting to learn from our mistakes, reduce the stigma, recognize this disorder as a brain disease and take steps towards a better future. Now is not the time for the CDC to relax its opioid recommendations.

Dr. Scheppke is Florida’s deputy health secretary.


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