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New Opioid Prescribing Guidelines: A Flawed Approach to Chronic Pain Management


[Canberra, 22 May 2023] — Today, we raise our concerns regarding the forthcoming release of the new Opioid Prescribing Guidelines. Our examination of the development group responsible for creating these guidelines has revealed a startling lack of expertise and representation from essential stakeholders, ultimately rendering the guidelines fundamentally flawed and potentially harmful to individuals living with severe chronic pain.

The development group behind these guidelines includes no pain management doctors and, astonishingly, no individuals who personally experience the challenges of severe chronic pain or rely on long-term opioid therapy. Equally concerning is the fact that the vast majority of the group consists of addiction medicine specialists or pharmacists from academia, with no education, qualifications, or practical experience in the clinical management of chronic pain.

The guidelines, purportedly aimed at improving patient care, predominantly rely on “Expert Opinion” as the basis for their recommendations. It is deeply troubling that none of these individuals possess expertise in pain management or the prescription of opioids for chronic pain. As a result, this is nothing but the opinion of non-experts and we strongly believe that these guidelines should be discarded without delay.

It is astounding that these guidelines were approved at all, as they do NOT meet the basic standards required for the development of clinical guidelines, given no pain management doctors were included in the development group; they rely on outdated science and very low-quality evidence; and there was NO consumer consultation prior to their writing.

We call for a comprehensive revision of the development process, urging the involvement of actual experts in pain management and individuals who have lived experience of severe, daily pain and long-term opioid therapy. Only by including these key stakeholders can we ensure the creation of guidelines that are truly evidence-based and considerate of the diverse needs of patients.

It is distressing to note that the proposed guidelines make deprescribing the standard of care, while neglecting to address the potential consequences for those living with severe, daily pain. By prioritizing deprescribing without due consideration, these guidelines fail to strike a balance between the needs of patients and the overarching goal of responsible opioid prescription management.

We believe that these guidelines not only fall short of their intended purpose but also risk inflicting additional harm on some of the most vulnerable members of our community. We implore the relevant authorities to take immediate action, starting with the shredding of the current guidelines and assembling a new development group that embraces recent, high-quality evidence, consults genuine experts, and includes individuals with lived experience of severe, daily pain and long-term opioid therapy.

The upcoming release of these flawed guidelines demands attention and prompt action. We urge the medical community, policymakers, and all stakeholders to stand together in advocating for the rights and well-being of individuals living with chronic pain. Let us collectively work towards the creation of guidelines that reflect the true complexities of pain management and foster an environment of compassionate care and support.

For media inquiries, please contact:

Neen Monty

Patient advocate

Pain Patient Advocacy Group

Kevin R James

Patient Advocate

Pain Patient Advocacy Group