FDA, DEA To Release Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Plans Soon
The FDA and the Drug Enforcement Administration will soon release plans aimed at curbing prescription drug abuse as sales of narcotic painkillers increase and drug makers are producing more opioid drugs, the Wall Street Journal reports. Sales of narcotic painkillers increased 18% between 2001 and 2002 to $4.67 billion and increased 136% between 1998 and 2002, and a government survey conducted last year found that an estimated 29.6 million people used painkillers without having a medical need for them. The agencies particularly are focusing on reducing the risk of abuse of drugs with time-release mechanisms intended to allow patients to absorb the medicine gradually. For example, OxyContin, a narcotic painkiller, is among commonly abused drugs because users are able "to defeat" the time-release mechanism to experience all the drug's effects at once, the Journal reports. According to people who have been briefed on the DEA's plans, the plans are expected to include measures to require the development of abuse-management programs -- such as physician education programs -- as part of a drug's approval process; include more detailed information on appropriate prescribing practices on drug labels; and urge physicians to screen patients for potential risk of addiction. The DEA, in cooperation with state medical boards, is planning to add training in opioid use to physicians' continuing education requirements (Wilde Mathews/Fields, Wall Street Journal, 12/3).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.