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NICE plans to curb use of drugs for low-back pain ‘delayed’

NICE has put updated guidelines on low back pain – including plans to tightly limit what medications GPs may prescribe – on hold after being overwhelmed by feedback during the consultation on the draft proposals.

Final publication of the guidelines was due on 7 September but according to NICE officials, the guidelines have had to be delayed until further notice as NICE ‘received a large number of comments’ and is now ‘taking additional time to ensure that all of the points raised have been considered fully and responded to appropriately’.

The draft proposals provoked strong criticism from some GPs after Pulse revealed NICE advisors wanted GPs to review any patients prescribed paracetamol for chronic back pain with a view to weaning them off it, and to choose from a much more limited range of drug options for pain management.

The draft guidelines also proposed GPs should offer short, tailored exercise programmes – offering a broader range of different forms of exercise than before – and that they should no longer prescribe acupuncture.

NICE declined to comment on whether any particular plans had attracted feedback or were under revision, stating it had received a lot of feedback on ‘a number of recommendations’.

A spokesperson told Pulse: ‘A large number of comments from stakeholders have been received covering a number of the recommendations in the draft back pain guideline. We are taking time to ensure that all the points raised have been considered appropriately.

‘We are not able to say whether there will be any changes to the guidance as a result of these comments. We do not have a new publication date yet but once one has been confirmed it will be updated on the NICE website.’



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