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FDA Advocates Prescribing Long-acting Opioids Only For Severe Pain

09/11/13

  11:51:27 am, by MedBen5   , 216 words,  
Categories: News, Prescription

FDA Advocates Prescribing Long-acting Opioids Only For Severe Pain

In hopes of encouraging doctors to exercise more caution in the prescribing of painkillers, the Food and Drug Administration has introduced new labeling guidelines for opioid narcotics, The Los Angeles Times reports. The change will affect OxyContin, Opana and other popular brand names.

Current labels for long-acting and extended-release opioids recommend their use for “moderate-to-severe” pain. The revised language will state that use should be limited to “pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment” for which alternative treatments have failed.

The FDA took the action in response to a recent surge in prescription drug overdoses, which in 2009 surpassed traffic accidents as a leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. In addition to changing label language, the agency will also require drug manufacturers to conduct new research aimed at identifying what doses and modes of use are most likely to harm patients.

While acknowledging the moves as steps in the right direction, experts feel more still needs to be done. “People who are in severe pain often take more than is prescribed to them, so limiting the label indication is not going to prevent that from happening,” said Lynn Webster, president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine.

More widely prescribed, fast-acting opioids, including hydrocodone, were not affected by the FDA order.

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