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After protracted debate over federal guidelines for prescribing opioids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has clarified its position, stating that its three-year-old recommendations were not intended to deny clinically appropriate treatment to patients who suffer acute or chronic pain from conditions such as cancer and sickle cell disease.

Those guidelines, which focus on chronic pain except for cancer and end-of-life care, target primary care physicians because family doctors write the vast majority of prescriptions for painkillers. Doctors were also advised to prescribe opioids only after other therapies have failed and rely on the lowest possible doses. The guidelines were issued in March 2016.

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