New Drug Labels for Oxycontin Carry FDA’s Strongest Warning
The prescription painkiller OxyContin will now bear the FDA's "strongest type of warning" -- a black box that says the drug is potentially as addictive as morphine and explains that chewing, snorting or injecting it can kill, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 7/26). OxyContin abuse has been linked to more than 120 deaths around the nation (Koch, Dallas Morning News, 7/26). Prompted by a "rash of abuse cases" and "persistent reports of OxyContin being diverted to the black market," the new warnings are intended to reduce the chance that the drug will be inappropriately prescribed for people who have "relatively low levels of pain" (Adams, Wall Street Journal, 7/26). The Los Angeles Times reports that although drug abusers "don't read warning labels," the "hope is that if doctors give OxyContin just to patients with serious, chronic pain, it will become harder for abusers to get left-over tablets" (Los Angeles Times, 7/26). The FDA worked with OxyContin's maker, Purdue Pharma, to create the drug label warnings. Purdue also sent a letter to the nation's doctors and pharmacists to alert them to the new warning and urge care providers to be aware that the drug can be abused "in a manner similar to illicit drugs" (Wall Street Journal, 7/26). In addition, the FDA has posted patient information on its Web site to urge people to keep OxyContin in a secure place and dispose of unused tablets (Los Angeles Times, 7/26).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.