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Some doctors are concerned that making it more difficult to prescribe opioids could hinder treatment of patients in pain, ABC News reports. Earlier this week, 37 health care workers signed and submitted a petition to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), urging officials to change labels on prescription opioids, in an effort to curb prescription drug abuse.

“I believe this is not an appropriate way to address the disease of addiction,” said Pam Kedziera, Clinical Director of Fox Chase Cancer Center’s pain program. “Pain is a significant problem in the United States, and those who suffer deserve treatment.”

The petition asks the FDA to prohibit use of opioids for moderate pain. It also calls on the agency to add a maximum daily dose, and only permit patients to take opioids for up to 90 days, unless they are being treated for cancer-related pain. While a change in the label would not limit how doctors prescribe opioids, it would prevent drug companies from promoting the drugs for non-approved uses.

“We’ve seen the pendulum go from it being extremely difficult for physicians to prescribe opioids to patients who didn’t have cancer… to where it was clearly being overprescribed,” Dr. Joshua Prager, Director of the Center for Rehabilitation of Pain Syndromes at the University of California at Los Angeles, told ABC News. “What I would argue for is that there really has to be balance that doesn’t have the pendulum swing back too fast and too far beyond what is reasonable.”

Both Kedziera and Prager object to a 90-day limit on opioids. Kedziera says she is concerned about taking chronic pain patients off medication just so that they will not exceed the limit.

Dr. Gregory Collins, who heads the Cleveland Clinic’s Alcohol and Drug Recovery Center, said he believes the measures outlined in the petition “unduly restricts doctors’ access to opiate medication in the treatment of numerous noncancer but painful conditions.”

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