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Issue Background

Pain Medication Prescribing and Dispensing

SPPAN Position

SPPAN supports efforts of medical and other professional licensing boards to set reasonable guidelines that allow professionals to fully exercise the discretion they are trained to use. We do not oppose guidance about activities that may increase the effectiveness and safety of pain care, but we share the concerns of providers that many of these guidelines' mandates risk negative unintended consequences. We are eager to work with licensing boards and other regulatory entities to develop reasonable guidelines that balance the interests of all parties involved, and that address both prescription drug abuse and life-changing pain.


The diagnosis and treatment of pain is integral to the practice of medicine, not just for those specializing in pain care, but for all clinicians. Professional licensing boards increasingly are being called upon by legislators and other policy makers to establish practice guidelines, especially with respect to the use of opioids to manage pain. While many policy makers envision strict guidelines limiting doses of medications and mandating certain other activities, there is concern in the pain management community that such guidelines could inhibit the provision of good pain care.

Related Resources:

CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain, March 15, 2016

FSMB guidelines



Medical practice should not be legislated, and licensing boards should involve expert pain management clinicians when developing treatment guidelines.