New opioid rules are too restrictive
RE: Errors made creating opioid gude, Mac says (May 20)
The new McMaster opioid guidelines are flawed. But the problem isn’t conflict of interest — it’s that they restrict opioid access too much.
Opioids are medically necessary for many chronic pain patients. Contrary to Guyatt’s letter, they were already prescribed with extreme caution in Canada. Many patients who needed opioids could not get them because their doctors simply did not prescribe opioids.
In the US, similar opioid guidelines have resulted in mass abandonment of chronic pain patients by their doctors.
People with chronic pain have been left with no health care because doctors refuse to take them on, terrified of liability if they prescribe opioids. The new opioid guidelines allow for opioid prescribing in very limited circumstances, but doctors are harassed by regulatory bodies to the point where they are afraid to prescribe any opioids at all.
Chronic pain patients experience literal torture when they are deprived of necessary pain medication, sometimes leading to post-traumatic stress disorder. Lack of medication can also make them unable to work or take care of their families. Access to pain relief is a basic human right.
For many people with chronic pain, these new guidelines put freedom from torture even further out of reach. Christine Hughes-Wiklund, Germany (I moved to Germany from Hamilton about a year ago and plan to return to Canada in a few years.)