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Gov. Tomblin: W.Va. to implement CDC guidelines on opioids use

Release from the Office of the Governor:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (October 18, 2016) – Governor Earl Ray Tomblin today announced that the state has developed a plan that adheres to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain.

The West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) and the West Virginia Public Employees Insurance Agency (PEIA), in conjunction with private insurers, pain specialists, pharmacists, and other West Virginia medical providers, have developed new prior authorization requirements and an opioid treatment plan template as part of the state’s ongoing efforts to curb opioid abuse, overdoses and deaths.

“With more than 600 opiate-related overdose deaths in West Virginia last year, we must continue making every positive change we can to break the cycle of addiction,” Gov. Tomblin said. “I am pleased that our two health agencies are working together to promote safe and effective chronic pain management. These new guidelines will give physicians and patients the facts they need to make more informed decisions about treatment.”

The CDC recommends that opioids should not be considered a first-choice treatment, and that patients should be educated about and agree to all treatment decisions regarding chronic pain. It is also recommended that providers should consider potential opioid abuse, including diversion of opioid medication, when pursuing treatment, as well as take measures to prevent abuse.

“This effort is a collaboration built on the CDC’s recommendations, as well as input from West Virginia medical professionals,” DHHR Cabinet Secretary Karen L. Bowling said. “The state intends to implement these guidelines to reduce the opportunity for opioid overuse and abuse while preserving access to necessary drugs for those patients who truly need them.”

DHHR’s Bureau for Behavioral Health and Health Facilities, Bureau for Medical Services, and Bureau for Public Health will begin offering education to providers this month. Prior authorization forms will be formally adopted on January 1, 2017 for Medicaid and PEIA prescribers. Populations that will be exempted from the prior authorization process include cancer, palliative, and hospice patients.

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