For a long time now, America has been making headlines regarding abuse and overdose of opioids and the deaths related to it. According to the Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2016, there has been a 200 percent rise in opioid overdose deaths since 2000. Another 2014 CDC report stated that nearly 46 people die from prescription painkiller overdose in the country every day.
While the government has implemented several plans to curb opioid abuse by Americans, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may make it mandatory for medical practitioners, who prescribe painkillers as OxyContin or Oxycodone, to take safety training courses.
If implemented, the mandate can provide a major thrust to the Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) proposed by the FDA in 2012, which required extended-release and long-acting (ER/LA) opioid analgesics companies to provide necessary (voluntary) training to doctors who prescribe pain medicines to their patients. The REMS also required the companies to facilitate educational materials to both physicians and their patients instructing them about the adverse impact of powerful pain medications and the ways to deal with their side effects.
The mandatory training requirements proposed by the FDA can be fruitful in wiping out prescription drug abuse from the country, a goal which could not be achieved by voluntary training provided to doctors, as not many doctors had shown interest in the program originally planned by the FDA.
Stressing on the need to have more stringent policies in place, Dr. Jacob Hutchins, Medical Director of the University of Minnesota Health Acute Pain Service, said, “Surgeons are used to prescribing opioids for patients after surgery. Physicians are used to prescribing opiates for patients that came in that in acute pain or chronic pain and patients expect it because that’s what they’ve always gotten.”
Similar recommendation turned down by FDA in 2012
This is not the first time that the recommendation for mandatory training of doctors has been made. The FDA turned down in 2012 a similar proposal by an expert panel after it was strongly resisted by members of the American Medical Association (AMA). Reacting to the idea of making it an obligation for doctors and prescribers to undergo the necessary training in pain management before opting to advice a strong opioid to their patients, Dr. Patrice A. Harris, chairperson of the AMA’s Task Force to Reduce Opioid Abuse, said, “We know these tools are a great tool in the toolbox. But they are not a panacea.”
The plan, which is already a subject of strong debate among the law enforcement agencies, the FDA and the CDC and being strongly opposed by the AMA, will require tremendous and determined government support to be implemented.
The FDA presented its findings before an expert panel in May 2016. The advisory panel is expected to provide the necessary suggestions regarding the doctor training program.
Path to recovery
Law enforcement agencies and healthcare providers are making consistent efforts to put an end to the problem of opioid abuse that has resulted in more deaths than in road accidents. It is important for patients to understand the potential risks attached with the long-term use of prescription drugs. Educating patients about prescription drug abuse is an important step toward preventing major health issues.
If you or your loved one is grappling with addiction and is actively looking for prescription drug rehab in Florida, you may get in touch with the Florida Prescription Drug Addiction Helpline for evidence-based treatment methods. You may also call at our 24/7 helpline number 866-292-3211 or chat online to learn about prescription drug rehab centers in Florida or for further expert advice.