Pain care should be patient-centered, meaning that the needs of each individual are appreciated and addressed. What works well for one person may not for others. Multiple agencies have underscored that opioids should not be a first line agent for chronic pain. However, for some people they can be an effective part of a comprehensive pain care plan. And, for a fraction of people opioids may be an essential aspect of pain management.

Beth Darnall, PhD, advocates for clinician autonomy in opioid prescribing, wherein the individual risks and benefits are carefully weighed. She opposes rigid dose-based opioid prescribing and tapering policies that are unsupported by evidence, lack patient-centeredness, and expose vulnerable patients to new health risks.

Beth Darnall led the writing and publication of an international letter opposing forced opioid tapering which was submitted to the U.S. Health and Human Services. The letter received international press attention.

  • She contributed patient-centered language to the HHS opioid tapering guidance.
  • Authored this Op-Ed in The Hill opposing harmful opioid restrictions.
  • Authored a second Op-Ed in The Hill describing how current opioid policies violate principles of patient-centeredness.
  • She testified against a planned policy to mandate opioid tapering in Oregon.
  • Testified to the U.S. Congress twice (2018, 2019) against forced opioid tapering and the need for improved pain care in America.
  • Testified to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 2019 on the iatrogenic harms from forced opioid tapering.
  • Her team’s voluntary opioid reduction research was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. She is now leading a 4-state PCORI-funded study that focuses on the patient voice, patient choice, and the patient experience during voluntary opioid reduction. The name of the study is EMPOWER, and it includes careful methods to assure patient protections.
  • In 2020 she was appointed to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Opioid Workgroup.

Disclosures Related to Opioids

None. Beth Darnall has no past or current consulting relationships with any pharmaceutical company, nor has she served as a paid or unpaid expert witness in any opioid litigation.