AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- As the state works to finalize new rules on opioid prescription limits, Doctors across Maine have been asking some of their patients taking opioid painkillers to taper their doses, to meet the state's tough new law capping prescriptions at 100 morphine milligram equivalents a day.
But there are people across the state who say their pain is now growing unbearable and they're losing their quality of life. For some of those people, the Maine Medical Association is now asking that regulators carve out certain exceptions.
those who testified at a recent public hearing on the new opioid limits said either they or their loved ones were trying to taper down to the state mandated dosage limit of 100 morphine milligram equivalents and were facing increased pain, and their daily lives were being affected. For the state, it's been a real challenge, finding the right balance between stopping drug overdose deaths and making sure people who are on opioid pain medications aren't caused undue pain and suffering.
"The medication is so dangerous that it's more harmful than the illness you're treating it for," explained Gordon Smith, Executive Vice President of the Maine Medical Association. He says that recent studies show that opioids are not the safest or best way to treat chronic pain.
"For chronic pain, opioid medication is not effective that it actually induces a hyper Inergesia that makes the pain worse. patients of course don't want to hear this and patients don't want to believe it I think."
The law has exceptions for cancer patients, those in hospice care, and those in palliative care who have serious illnesses, But Smith does acknowledge there may be others, as many as 10 percent of the 16 thousand or so people on opioid prescriptions above the state limits that may not be able to taper down.
The Maine Medical Association believes there should be an exemption in the law for people in that group that try to taper down their daily doses for at least 2-3 months, and are unable to do so.
"If they've tried to come off the opioid medication and are still really having functional loss maybe they could walk a mile now they can't get out of bed maybe they could walk now they can't that patient we think should be able to go back to The previous level subject to some upper limits," Smith said.
The State Department of Health and Human Services is expected to complete it's rulemaking on the opioids by the end of the month.