New Commentary by Cancer Community Leaders Underscores That Addressing Opioid Crisis Shouldn’t Limit Access for Patients with Life-Threatening Illness

June 5, 2019

In April, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a key clarification of its guideline on prescribing opioids to manage pain from certain conditions. The clarification, regarding CDC’s Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain—issued in a letter from the agency to ASCO, the American Society of Hematology (ASH), and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN) — came as a result of a collaborative effort by the organizations to clarify CDC’s opioid prescribing guideline and ensure safe and appropriate access to opioids for cancer patients, cancer survivors, and individuals with sickle cell disease.

As part of the collaboration that lead to the CDC clarification, leadership from the organizations came together to write an op-ed for ASCO Connection. That commentary from ASCO CEO Clifford A. Hudis, MD, FACP, FASCO; NCCN CEO Robert W. Carlson, MD; and ASH President Roy Silverstein, MD, fully outlines the groups’ concerns about how efforts to address the opioid crisis in the United States could inadvertently create a new crisis through the misguided application of well-intentioned clinical guidelines.

The op-ed stresses that “with this clarification in hand we can—and must—act swiftly to correct policies that have resulted in blanket restrictions on opioid prescribing based on misinterpretation of the CDC guidelines. Every day that goes by, some Americans experience debilitating pain that is avoidable with appropriate treatment.”

Read the op-ed.