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State's orthopedic doctors introduce new opioid guidelines

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The Pennsylvania Orthopaedic Society has introduced new guidelines for prescribing opioids to residents of the state with a focus on injured athletes.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf was at UPMC Montefiore in Pittsburgh on Thursday for the announcement of the new standards, which were designed to curb abuse of the powerful painkillers.

As an alternative to opioids, the guidelines call for exercise, acupuncture and non-opioid medication to treat pain.

The state's association of orthopedic doctors also believes athletes with injuries severe enough to consider opioid treatment shouldn't be eligible to return to the field of play.

More than 3,500 Pennsylvanians died of drug overdoses in 2015 -- a sharp increase from the previous year. Statistics for 2016 are not yet available, but another increase is expected.

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