FDA to Hold Hearings on Misuse of Powerful Pain Pills

Last year we wrote about a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Grand Rounds: Prescription Drug Overdoses – a U.S. Epidemic.” Powerful painkillers continue to be overprescribed, abused and mismanaged by doctors, as told in horrifying detail in an ongoing series by the Los Angeles Times.

The FDA, in acknowledgment of so much going wrong in the prescribing and use of opioids, will begin holding public hearings next month. Better late than never, considering that:

  • Prescription drug abuse is the fastest growing drug problem in the U.S.
  • In one recent year in the U.S. one death due to drug overdose occurred every 19 minutes.
  • The recent increase in unintentional drug overdose deaths has been driven by the increased use of prescription narcotics.

The feds are seeking information from the public and scientific data about these narcotic drugs for the two-day hearing on Feb. 7-8 at the Bethesda Marriott in Maryland. Anyone wishing to appear at the hearing should visit the FDA link above-the deadline for oral presentations is Jan. 18, but other written and electronic communications will be accepted through April 8. If you have a story about the harms of narcotic painkillers, this is the time to tell it.

As reported on AboutLawsuits.com, FDA officials will consider the diagnosis and understanding of patient pain; methods professionals use to distinguish various types of pain; definitions for terms such as mild, moderate or severe in diagnosis. Specific drug concerns, such as product composition, abuse deterrence, dosage controls and prescribing practices are also key.

Many opioid drugs, including Vicodin, Oxycontin and Methadone, are abused not only by medical patients, but street users. AboutLawsuits says that officials hope to find balance in minimizing drug abuse while preserving access to such drugs by patients with a legitimate need.

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