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Sheffer: Changing Guideline smart and practical

Sheffer: Changing Guideline smart and practical

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Addiction to opioids is one of the fastest-growing national drug crises in the U.S., and new data confirms that drug overdoses are spiking during the coronavirus pandemic, rising by about 18%. Because of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Guidelines, physicians are encouraged to prescribe Schedule II opioids at an alarming rate. The result of that is an addiction crisis that has become a tragic part of everyday life, with no small impact here in Wyoming.

A driving force in the flood of opioid prescriptions, addictions and overdoses is backwards policy. The CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain is designed to encourage medical providers to prescribe Schedule II opioids instead of safer, Schedule III alternatives.

That means doctors’ hands are tied, patients are being put at unnecessary risk and individualized care is extremely scarce. In 2018, opioids were involved in 46,802 overdose deaths – nearly 70% of all overdose deaths in the U.S.

The CDC can change the current Guideline any time they want, but the need to take action is right now. The longer Wyoming goes without a much-needed update to the CDC’s Guideline, the harder these widespread problems will be to solve.

We need Senator Enzi to encourage the CDC to move toward a new Guideline that prioritizes patients, and is the smart and practical route.

CLAY SHEFFER, Rock Springs

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