Prescriptions painkillers have become an extremely common phenomenon in the United States, but is this a good thing? What do you need to know? What safety concerns exist?
CBS news reports on painkillers. There are new guidelines out on when and how prescription painkillers should be prescribed and consumed.
Federal health experts have changed the rules. They will ensure that the strongest possible warning labels be added to prescription drugs in an effort to reverse the trend of addiction and death that has been spurred from doctors prescribing the drugs.
The Food and Drug Administration made an announcement on Tuesday stating that they plan to add a boxed warning, the most serious and cautious type, to all immediate-release opioid painkillers. This includes around 175 branded and generic pharmaceutical drugs.
Physicians have been quick to prescribe painkillers to patients over the years without knowing the risks. As the serious addiction risks began to surface, doctors began to prescribe more conservatively but still too often and much damager had already been done.
Among the drugs that federal health experts are referring to are Vicodin and Percoset. The long-awaited change comes roughly three years after the FDA added similar warnings to long-acting opioid drugs like OxyContin, which slowly release their doses over 12 hours or more,” according to The Times. What do the new labels mean? The change in labeling means both immediate and extended-release formulations will highlight information about the imminent threat of ‘addiction, abuse, overdose and death’.
Many experts in the field are applauding the FDA’s new guidelines. They are saying that they have been waiting for such guidelines for many years now.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf commented on the findings. He said, “We're at a time when the unfathomable tragedies resulting from addiction, overdose, and death have become one of the most urgent and devastating public health crises facing our country. I can't stress enough how critical it is for prescribers to have the most current information.”
Critics of the FDA's approach to opioids, including the group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, have been calling for the FDA to step in for a decade now. The group's founder, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, an addiction therapist, made a statement. He said, that this new indication, ‘will remind prescribers that immediate-release opioids are also powerful drugs with important safety concerns’.
CBS News medical contributor Dr. Tara Narula told CBS This Morning, “We have such a huge epidemic in this country; over 200 million prescriptions were given out in 2014. Forty people die every day from opioid overdoses; two million people are dependent or abuse opioids.”