WV joins coalition opposing weaker limits on opioid prescribing

April 3, 2019

The Herald-Dispatch

CHARLESTON - Attorney General Patrick Morrisey joined a group of 39 attorneys general in expressing concern that a draft pain management directive could weaken restrictions on the prescribing of opioid painkillers.

The bipartisan coalition worries a draft pain management report, under consideration by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, deviates from guidelines aimed at decreasing the risk of opioid misuse as set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Moving away from the CDC guideline at this critical time would undermine ongoing legislative initiatives, as well as refinements to standards of medical care,” a coalition letter reads. “As a matter of public safety, there is simply no justification to move away from the CDC guideline to encourage more liberal use of an ineffective treatment that causes nearly 50,000 deaths annually.”

The coalition of attorneys general expressed its concern in a letter to Dr. Vanila Singh, chief medical officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The HHS draft pain management report suggests providers can rely solely on their judgment instead of consulting the CDC’s evidence-based recommendations.

The bipartisan letter contends that, in addition to their risk for addiction, opioids can often be ineffective in managing pain.

The letter includes several other concerns, including that HHS neither provides a reason for departing from evidence-based CDC guidelines, nor explicitly states that there is no completely safe opioid dosage.

West Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky are among the states that signed onto the Montana- and Washington-led letter.