We have recently written several posts about prescription narcotic painkillers. While these drugs are often necessary for patient comfort and recovery, they can also be highly addictive and potentially lethal when taken in inappropriate doses.
Last week, dozens of public health officials, doctors and researchers petitioned the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to alter labeling requirements for these dangerous pharmaceuticals. Ultimately, these experts want to make it increasingly challenging for drug manufacturers to market these drugs for certain uses. Specifically, they want to limit the ways these drugs may be marketed for chronic pain that is unrelated to cancer treatment.
Among the signatories are experts from the Mayo Clinic, the watchdog group Public Citizen and the New York City Health Commissioner. Their main concern stems from the "opioid epidemic" that is sweeping America. The petition specifically notes that, "By implementing the label changes proposed in this petition, FDA has an opportunity to reduce harm caused to chronic pain patients as well as societal harm caused by diversion of prescribed opioids."
Limiting the ability to market these drugs may help to minimize the opioid prescription trend. Given that opioid prescriptions have quadrupled over the past decade, this might not be such a bad idea. Especially because this trend is contributing to addiction and overdose related to these medications.
The petition suggests that the FDA require labels to, among other things, state that patients should be limited to 90 days on the medications for non-cancer-related pain. The FDA has already indicated that it has received the petition and will furnish its response to Public Citizen.
Source: MedPage Today, "Doctors Petition FDA to Change Opioid Labeling," John Fauber, July 25, 2012
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