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Garrett Greene uses opiate medications for pain relief and struggles to find effective treatment.
Crystal Vander Weit and Jasper Colt, USA TODAY

Mickey Saxbury, who lives in New York, worked for 25 years on the production line of General Motors. 19659004] A back operation failed. A means of relieving his pain gradually became ineffective. The only thing that works consistently is analgesics.

But a judge overseeing his New York State Workers Compensation Board case ordered that his opioids be greatly reduced.

"They let me down so much that I can not even get off the couch," said Saxbury. 61, who lives near Buffalo.

Patients with chronic pain, such as Saxbury, are becoming increasingly vocal about what they consider a medical community that excludes them. Centers for disease control and prevention issued guidelines in 2016 to reduce prescriptions after years of liberal opioid delivery, which contributed to addiction and overdose deaths.

These guidelines have not only affected physicians – government regulators, health insurers, and even disability managers have also cited these nationwide guidelines to justify policies that limit prescribing pain pills.

Last month, the CDC clarified its position and stated that the reaction to the opioid crisis had gone too far. In a New England Journal of Medicine editorial, a panel of experts cited examples such as inflexible dose limits, abrupt rejuvenation, and misapplication of guidelines for people with cancer, sickle cell disease, or recovery from surgery.

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein, former Secretary of Health of Maryland and Baltimore Health Commissioner, said he supports how the more detailed guidelines of the CDC reconcile the risk of opioids with their needs.

"The right thing is to follow this balance," said Sharfstein Now Professor and Vice Dean at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The guidelines "should not be used as a kind of stick to reduce proper prescribing."

Chronic Pain Patients "Between a Rock and a Hard Place"

Many chronic pain patients wonder if the revised guideline will bring relief to them.

Saxbury took a potent opioid, oxycodone, to relieve the throbbing of the lower back that blasts off his left leg. His prescription remained stable for several years: 30 milligrams of pills, four times a day.

But the New York State Workers Compensation Board, which oversees its case, has consulted a medical expert to review Saxburys medical records. The expert Dr. Chris Grammar, who had never physically examined Saxbury, concluded that he was prescribed unsafe opioid levels.

In its report to the New York Authority, Grammatik cited the government guidelines for non-acute pain management and CDC data on overdose deaths associated with opioid prescriptions. He added that the high-dose opioid prescriptions of Saxbury's Pain Doctor are "no longer supported".

"This is not critical for their attending physician, since this approach is relatively new," Grammar wrote. "However, in the absence of functional improvement, this patient is at exceptional risk with little benefit."

A judge agreed and ordered Saxbury's pain killers to be reduced.

Following the judge's decision, Saxbury said his doctor had halved his daily pain regimen. He can not muster the energy or tolerance to do many daily activities. And his planned move to Arizona to escape a cold climate that exacerbates his pain and makes life close to family seem more daunting than ever.

Saxbury said he had unsuccessfully asked his doctor to reconsider the painkillers reduction.

"My pain therapist said they could not give me the drug because they might lose their license," Saxbury said. "I am between a stone and a hard place."

Grammar declined to discuss the details of Saxbury's case with USA TODAY. But in general, he said, medical evidence does not support long-term opioid use for chronic pain patients.

He said that pharmaceutical companies such as OxyContin manufacturer PurduePharma have not proven in medical studies that long-term opioid use relieves chronic pain.

Patients who have become dependent on opioids now feel sad as more and more doctors question the use of the pain medication.

"With few exceptions, the patients are innocent," said Grammar. "You do not write the recipes."

State laws have "deterrent" pain regimens

States have responded to the addiction crisis by passing laws aimed at reducing opioid prescriptions.

As of October 2018, 33 states have passed laws that limit or impose opioid regulations, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Most of these states limited the filling of the initial pain pill to seven days, with some states prescribing even more aggressive cuts to fill in three or five days.

Cystic fibrosis patient Garrett Greene of Coconut Creek. Fla. Speaking at his appointment on Monday, June 17, 2019, in Boca Raton, Fla. With his new pain therapist Melanie Rosenblatt. (Photo: Crystal Vander Weit, for USA TODAY)

In July last year, Florida passed a law requiring physicians to register as chronic pain clinics to prescribe more than three days of opioids. Dr. Melanie Rosenblatt, a pain therapy doctor and a registered addiction specialist, said the law had a "deterrent effect" on the prescription. Many of their new patients were dropped off by their former doctors or "would shop until they got what they wanted".

US federal statistics show that overall US Opioid regulations have declined every year since 2012. However, this trend has accelerated since the CDC issued guidelines September 2018. MMEs are a measure of the amount and effectiveness of opioids.

John Downey, a painkiller in Augusta, Georgia, argues that the "damage" was caused by restrictive state laws and reluctant prescribers.

GPs who fear disciplinary action by medical bodies have discontinued chronic pain patients. These pain patients have crowded the lobbies of pain clinics to find relief.

Downey served on the Georgia Medical Board for three years until mid-2018, chairing the board's Pain Committee. He told colleagues that he was not interested in another term because his doctor's office was so full of patients who had been rejected by other doctors. Downey said.

While on the medical board, he developed a point-based worksheet for family doctors treating pain patients. The Goal: Help physicians determine if pain patients are ready to complete therapy and try to use non-opioid therapies such as injections instead of just looking for pain pills.

Doctors who take the same prescriptions every month may see signs of abusive prescribing or a "pill mill," Downey said.

But he said such patients are often able to spend regular activities such as working, spending time with family or going to church.

is a well-managed patient, "said Downey." They are stable. "

Doctors are" afraid of addiction "

Sharfstein, Maryland's former Health Minister, said" there was a big whiplash " when the doctors responded to the opioid epidemic triggered by years of permission

"The doctors were told to treat the pain as best they could and may now hear the news that they are in trouble with opioids Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and Dr. Yngvild Olsen are co-authors of the opioid epidemic: What Everybody Should Know. ” width=”540″ data-mycapture-src=”” data-mycapture-sm-src=””/>

Dr. Joshua Sharfstein and Dr. Yngvild Olsen are co-authors of Opioid Epidemic: What Everybody Should Know [Photo: Isak Sharfstein]