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Drugmaker group backs limiting opioid supplies

Drugmaker group backs limiting opioid supplies
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A powerful drug industry trade group announced its support for limiting a patient’s supply of opioids to seven days for first-time acute pain treatment, as a way to curb the opioid epidemic plaguing the country.

“Too often individuals receive a 30-day supply of opioid medicines for minor treatments or short-term pain,” Stephen Ubl, president and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, said.

“Our announcement is candidly an unprecedented step for the industry,” Ubl said Wednesday at a meeting of the president’s opioid commission. “We’ve always supported physician autonomy and the preservation of the physician-patient relationship, but as you know, given the scope of this crisis, we believe it’s the right thing to do.”

Since 1999, deaths from opioid overdoses have quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Some have criticized the overprescribing of opioids as, partly, a catalyst for the increase. In guidelines released last year, the CDC recommended prescribing opioids for short durations for acute pain. Three days or less “will often be sufficient” and “more than seven days will rarely be needed.”

Last week, CVS Health announced it would limit opioid prescriptions to seven days for some acute conditions.