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FDA warns doctors not to suddenly cut opioids for dependent patients

April 11, 2019 / Joanne Finnegan

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety announcement Tuesday warning doctors and other healthcare professionals not to suddenly cut opioid pain medications for patients who are physically dependent on the drugs. The FDA said it has received reports of “serious harm” in patients when medications are discontinued or the dose rapidly decreased, including serious withdrawal symptoms, uncontrolled pain, psychological distress, and suicide. The FDA’s announcement comes at the same time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) clarified its controversial federal guideline for prescribing opioids, which it issued three years ago in the face of the opioid epidemic sweeping the country. The CDC made clear the guideline was not intended to deny chronic pain patients relief from opioids and encouraged physicians to use their “clinical judgment” in prescribing the medications.