The 2022 CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines released on November 3, 2022, replaced earlier guidelines that had led to confusion, misinterpretation, and faulty application by medical providers, according to a statement from the RLS Foundation.
“Unfortunately, the new Guidelines fail to recognize that restless legs syndrome (RLS), a serious disease affecting millions of Americans, can only be relieved by daily small doses of opioids in many cases,” says the RLS Foundation.” “This omission is surprising in light of the fact that the guidelines call out three medical conditions (sickle cell disease, cancer, or end-of-life care) that may require sustained doses of opioids. RLS, like these three conditions, should have an exemption from this Guideline.”
RLS Foundation scientific and medical advisory board chair, Christopher J. Earley, MD, says, “These guidelines have the potential to affect the 1 in 33 Americans with severe RLS who require daily medical treatment. Patients with moderate to severe RLS live every day with awareness of the burden of this disease; forever conscious of the limitations and barriers to appropriate and effective treatment.”
Many RLS patients have experienced the negative consequences of the prior CDC Opioid Prescribing Guidelines as they find physicians and pharmacists unwilling to prescribe or supply the only medications that bring them relief. Without explicit mention of RLS in the new guidelines, they fear that federal and state agencies will use the revised guidelines to continue to deny them treatment, according to the RLS Foundation.