Feb. 10, 2022 -- The CDC has released a draft update of its guidelines for how doctors prescribe opioids for pain management -- and is asking for public comment before moving forward.

The last update to these guidelines was released in 2016 and, among other things, noted that doctors should be cautious when considering increasing dosage of opioids to 50 or more morphine milligram equivalents per day and should avoid increasing to a dose of 90 or more MME/day.

It also noted that 3 days or less "will often be sufficient" to meet the lowest effective dose of immediate-release opioids for acute pain – and that more than 7 days "will rarely be needed.”

In the new report, from the CDC's National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, those dose limits have been replaced with the suggestion that doctors use their best judgement – while still urging conservative use and even the possibility of non-opioid treatments.

The updated recommendations are now open for public comment via the Federal Register's website through April 11.

"This comment period provides another critical opportunity for diverse audiences to offer their perspective on the draft clinical practice guideline," Christopher M. Jones, PharmD, acting director for the NCIPC, said in a release.

"We want to hear many voices from the public, including people living with pain and health care providers who help their patients manage pain," Jones said.

Opioid-related drug overdose deaths in the United States exploded to an estimated record high of 69,031 people in 2020, topping the 49,860 deaths logged in 2019, according to a report from the CDC. Most of the deaths involved synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.