New, Comprehensive Opioid Treatment Guidance in Reed Group DisabilityGuidelines

WESTMINSTER, Colo.--()--Reed Group, the recognized leader in helping organizations reduce the cost, compliance risk and complexity of employee absence today released new, medical evidence-based guidelines for treatment with opioids, a crucial tool for physicians, insurance and workers compensation professionals, and others requiring reliable, science-based opioid information. The new opioids guidelines were independently researched and developed for Reed Group by The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM.)

Opioids cause an estimated 16,000 fatalities annually in the U.S. alone. The new chapter addresses critical issues surrounding opioid use and trials. Opioids are the most potent acute pain medications, yet their effectiveness for chronic pain treatment is disputed, and they are potentially addictive.

The new opioids guidelines include a downloadable opioid treatment agreement, designed to help health care providers and patients use opioids appropriately. The opioids chapter is included in Reed Group’s DisabilityGuidelines™ (formerly MDGuidelines and ACOEM Practice Guidelines), and titled “ACOEM Opioid Guidelines.”

Among the chapter’s findings and recommendations:

  • 80-94% of opioid trials have industry conflicts (funding and/or conflicts of interest in the trials).
  • People in safety sensitive jobs should not take opioids. A systemic review found all 12 studies of motor vehicle crashes supported an elevated risk of crashes among drivers taking opioids. Other guidelines currently on the market don’t include this warning, and/or do not back it up with scientific review.
  • Suggests a 50mg morphine equivalent dose is the appropriate limit. Prior guidance used elsewhere and based mostly on expert opinion has been 100-120mg, possibly allowing fatalities to occur.
  • No comparative trial shows that an opioid is superior to another medication (out of 28 trials.)
  • Most patients in opioid trials do not tolerate opioids and drop out in various phases of the trials.
  • No evidence shows the long-term efficacy of opioids - the longest placebo controlled trial lasted only 4 months

“Patient dependence on opioids is a real and increasing problem in the U.S. We hope these new opioid guidelines provide the reliability and basis in science that will improve the way that opioids are managed, not only by health care providers, but by professionals in fields like workers comp and utilization review. It will take a broad effort and wide use of appropriate guidelines to make a real reduction in the problems caused by inappropriate use of opioids,” said Kurt Hegmann, M.D., director for the Center for the Rocky Mountain Center for Occupational and Environmental Health.

The opioid recommendations in DisabilityGuidelines™ were developed and finalized by a multidisciplinary expert panel after review of 960 references, including 157 identified studies addressing pain treatment. In addition, 27 external peer reviewers conducted extensive analysis of the new chapter prior to release.

The opioids chapter, and the rest of Reed Group DisabilityGuidelines™ web-based toolkit of return-to-work, treatment and durations information is available at The DisabilityGuidelines™ support all Reed Group return-to-work products.

About Reed Group

Reed Group, Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America, is the recognized leader in helping organizations reduce the cost, compliance risk and complexity of employee absence. Our products and services address FMLA, ADA, state and other leave laws, workers' compensation, and short- and long-term disability programs. Headquartered in Westminster, Colorado, Reed Group has been a trusted partner to employers, insurers, TPAs, government organizations, attorneys, and health care providers for over 35 years. Reed Group's world-class team of clinical and absence management experts help organizations deploy Reed Group products and services to improve employee health and productivity. For more information, visit


The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine (ACOEM) represents more than 4,000 physicians specializing in occupational and environmental medicine. Founded in 1916, ACOEM is the nation’s largest medical society dedicated to promoting the health of workers through preventive medicine, clinical care, disability management, research, and education. For more information, visit


For Reed Group
Amanda Kowalski, 720-833-5924

Release Summary

Reed Group has released new, medical evidence-based guidelines for treatment with opioids. This is a crucial tool for anyone requiring reliable, science-based opioid information.


For Reed Group
Amanda Kowalski, 720-833-5924