On May 4, Gov. Jared Polis signed SB23-144, making Colorado one of the first states to restore provider discretion in opioid prescribing and individualized care for chronic pain.

SB23-144 shields providers from discipline solely for prescribing opioid doses that fall outside recommended numeric thresholds recommended in guidelines. The law also states that providers cannot be forced to taper opioid doses in stable, compliant patients.

These protections were necessary to safeguard patients from dangerous opioid tapering practices that studies show increase their risks of suicide and overdose and can destabilize their health and lives.

SB23-144 corrects the widespread misapplication of opioid dose thresholds in guidelines, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. States, health care systems, pharmacy benefit managers, quality metric agencies, and other policy actors adopted numeric dose thresholds as one-size-fits-all mandates in ways that risked patient harm, as the CDC has acknowledged. In 2022, the Agency updated its guideline and removed arbitrary dose thresholds from its core recommendations.

The new law also prohibits clinics and pharmacies from discriminating against chronic pain patients who use opioids. It strikes a balance between promoting safe prescribing and protecting the care of people with chronic pain.

Colorado Medical Society supported this bill in collaboration with patient advocacy groups. 


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