AMA opposes opioid prescription limits: 5 things to know

While a growing number of healthcare entities, states and regulatory bodies embrace limits for opioid prescriptions, the nation's largest and oldest physician group opposes such rules, categorizing them as arbitrary and potentially injurious to patients, according to an April 11 report from The Hill.

Here are five things to know.

1. Patrice Harris, MD, chair of the American Medical Association's opioid task force, said the organization has "grave concerns" about imposing limits on opioid prescriptions with regards to length or dose, according to The Hill.

"Pain is a complex, biopsychosocial phenomenon, and individuals experience pain in different ways," Dr. Harris said. "The AMA believes that decisions around dosages needs to be left between the patient and the physician."

2. Proponents of the limitations argue they're an important component of solving the nation's ongoing opioid overdose crisis, which results in the deaths of more than 115 people every day, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

3. Despite widespread support for opioid prescription limits, physicians remain wary of such mandates. Stefan Kertesz, MD, professor of medicine at the University of Alabama Birmingham School of Medicine, is among them.

"Most people think, and I agree, that excess prescribing of opioids was at least one major contributor to today's tragedy," Dr. Kertesz told The Hill. "And so the instinct that we need to continue a course correction of a serious nature is well placed. The question is, when is that course correction best enforced as a matter of governmental mandates, and when is that course correction best advanced through a combination of state-based educational and regulatory initiatives that might fall short of hard and fast legislation."

4. While Congress has not passed a bill mandating nationwide opioid prescription limits, there is bipartisan support among lawmakers for such legislation. In February, a bipartisan group of Senators proposed establishing three-day limits for initial acute pain opioid prescriptions.

"After three days, someone can go back to the doctor and renew the prescription if it's legitimate, but there should be a process there to do that," Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, one of the proposed legislation's chief sponsors, told The Hill.

5. Twenty-eight states have established regulatory guidelines or limits related to the prescribing of opioids as of early April.

To read The Hill's full report, click here.

More articles on opioids: 
Study: Medicare patients use fewer opioids in states with medical marijuana laws 
Overdose deaths surged since 2010, despite prescription opioid decline: 3 findings 
Facebook cracks down on opioid-based hashtags on Instagram: 5 things to know

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