Task force approves opioid tapering guidelines in Oregon

October 25, 2019

Media contact: Delia Hernández, 503-422-7179phd.communications@dhsoha.state.or.us

Listen to OHA Chief Medical Officer Dana Hargunani’s statement

Task force approves opioid tapering guidelines in Oregon

Portland, Ore. -- The Oregon Opioid Tapering Task Force today completed clinical guidelines on opioid tapering it developed in the past several months.

The guidelines build on the work of previous task forces that developed statewide opioid guidelines for chronic pain, acute pain, dentists and pregnant women. They draw from available evidence, other federal and state guidelines, expert opinion, and public comment to guide clinical decisions, and encourage safe and compassionate prescribing and pain treatment statewide.

Oregon Opioid Tapering Guidelines Task Force members represent diverse perspectives and experiences with long-term use of opioids

and tapering, including community members with lived experience. The task force met publicly each month from March to October. "Before the development of these guidelines there were few resources and evidence related to tapering that clinicians could look to for guidance," said Dana Hargunani, M.D., chief medical officer at the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). "We hope bringing together experts and community members around the state helped us develop useful guidelines that promote trusting dialogue, individualized care and patient safety."

As part of Oregon’s broader efforts to reduce and prevent opioid-related harms, OHA implemented the Opioid Initiative in 2015. It brings statewide partners and communities together to reduce deaths, non-fatal overdoses, and harms to Oregonians from prescription opioids, while expanding use of non-opioid pain care. Work groups have convened and projects are underway, all aimed at reducing opioid misuse and overdose.

Significant steps forward include:

  • Approval of statewide prescribing guidelines by a work group of statewide providers.
  • Chronic-use opioid reduction strategies with the Oregon Health Plan's coordinated care organizations' statewide performance improvement project.
  • Naloxone availability.
  • Increase in medication-assisted treatment.
  • Coverage of non-opioid therapies for pain.
  • Community interventions in high-burden regions.
  • Ongoing monitoring of controlled substance prescribing and drug overdose outcomes (calculated by hospitalizations and deaths).

OHA’s efforts to change the conversation and promote evidence-based pain treatment are contributing to significant progress in the opioid epidemic. Oregon’s prescription opioid-related deaths have decreased by 52 percent since 2006 and the rate of opioid prescription fills decreased by 29 percent since 2015.