Medical board revises guidelines on controlled substances for pain

November 20, 2014

The Medical Board of California recently announced the release of its revised "Guidelines for Prescribing Controlled Substances for Pain." The medical board guidelines were heavily influenced by the California Medical Association’s (CMA) white paper, "Prescribing Opioids: Care amid Controversy," which is an extensive review of existing opioids prescribing guidelines conducted by the CMA Council on Scientific and Clinical Affairs.

"The revised guidelines will provide physicians with guidance, useful tools and links to useful information as they prescribe controlled substances for pain,” the medical board wrote in a press release announcing the new guidelines.

“This document provides helpful information for prescribers, while not losing track of the need to approach opioid prescribing on a patient by patient basis,” said CMA Vice Speaker Lee Snook, Jr., M.D., a Sacramento pain specialist, who worked closely with the MBC to create the guidelines.

“Pain remains the most common reason people seek health care, and has been considered an epidemic by the Institute of Medicine," said Dr. Snook. "Physicians have a professional, ethical and legal obligation to mitigate the effects of illness, and pain is no exception. However, opioids are not panaceas. They seldom, by themselves, adequately address the complex issues that a patient with chronic pain faces. Nonetheless, opioids remain one important tool that may be considered and used in the management of chronic pain.”

CMA's white paper, "Prescribing Opioids: Care amid Controversy," complements the June 2013 CMA report, "Opioid Analgesics in California: Relieving Pain, Preventing Abuse, Finding Balance," which focused on legislative and policy aspects of opioid prescribing. Both resources are available in CMA's online store at no charge.

Contact: Scott Clark, (916) 551-2887 or sclark@cmadocs.org.


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