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Editorial
May 2016

Opioid Prescribing for Chronic Pain: Not for the Faint of Heart

Author Affiliations
  • 1Los Angeles County Department of Health Services, Los Angeles, California
  • 2Deputy Editor, JAMA Internal Medicine
JAMA Intern Med. 2016;176(5):599-601. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.0664

Since all drugs have adverse effects, the decision to prescribe always involves a weighing of benefits and risks. In the case of opioids prescribed for chronic pain (excluding life-threatening conditions such as cancer), we have no evidence of benefit with long-term use and much evidence of harm. However, “no evidence of benefit” is not the same as “evidence of no benefit,” especially when the patient in front of you has chronic pain and has tried nonopioid medications (eg, acetaminophen, ibuprofen) without relief or has been taking a stable dose of opioids for months or years and is asking you for a prescription.

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    2 Comments for this article
    Thank you
    Dr. Michael Brown | Hazelwood family medicine
    Well written real world article
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
    Excellent
    Gregory Clanfield | Chronic Pain Patient
    Dr. Katz: I salute you for your outstanding, well thought out and common sense approach to this subject, one which is unfortunately getting too many biased, opinionated articles written about it.<br/>I cringe when reading those articles, as I believe that too many people are just taking them for the Gods truth, without giving them any thought at all.<br/>As a chronic pain patient, I can truly say that yours is a refreshing take on the subject.
    CONFLICT OF INTEREST: None Reported
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