Skip 
Navigation Link
Health Policy & Advocacy
Resources
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
Reminder, Recall Systems Improve Immunization UptakeSatisfaction Higher in Providers Who E-Mail PatientsRestaurant Bans Have Big Impact on Smoking RatesReduce Legal Blood-Alcohol Limit to Cut Drunk Driving Deaths: ReportFrom Birth On, One Sex Is HardierIs Obesity Slowing Gains in U.S. Life Spans?Health Tip: Perform Regular Skin ChecksFewer Hospitals Closed After Obamacare Expanded MedicaidProgress in Fighting Antibiotic Resistance Shown in CDC MapUSPSTF Questions Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis ScreeningHIV Screening Most Optimal at 25 Years of Age If No Risk FactorsBlood Banks Need January DonorsChild Death Rate Higher in U.S. Than Other Wealthy NationsPoor Credit Scores, Poor HealthClean Air Act May Be Saving More Lives Than ThoughtHealth Tip: Make Your Doctor's Appointment SuccessfulOb-Gyns Encouraged to Consider Social Determinants of HealthU.S. Life Expectancy Drops as Opioid Deaths SurgeFDA Gets Tough With Homeopathic MedicinesState Rules Affect Survival of Immigrants With Kidney FailureTougher State Laws Curb Vaccine RefusersDoctors Must Report on at Least 1 Patient, 1 Measure for MACRADecline in Antibiotic Use in Livestock Isn't Enough, Critics SayWoman's Selfie of Skin Cancer Went Viral, Sparked AwarenessCan Video Games Hone ER Docs' Skills?Higher Booze Taxes Might Pay Off for Public HealthAre Emergency Medical Workers Ready for a Nuclear Attack?Pediatric Oncologists Willing to Consider Medical MarijuanaHow to Perk Up the Holidays for Hospital PatientsWhat to Do If Someone's Bleeding BadlyAre Good Kidneys Going to Waste?U.S. Gun Sales Rose After Sandy Hook Massacre: StudyCreating Your Family Health TreeLocal Smoke-Free Laws Tied to Fewer Lung Cancer CasesYour Doc Is Away? Substitute Doctors a Safe Option, Study FindsChecking Prices for Medical Procedures Online? Good LuckPatients More Prone to Complain About Younger DoctorsPatients Often Uncomfortable With Overlapping SurgeriesClinician Denial of Patient Requests Impacts SatisfactionPatients React Poorly When Docs Say 'No'Memo to Doctors: Spit Out the Bad NewsDoubts Raised About Use of Products Containing OxybenzoneReport: Industry Hid Decades-Old Study Showing Sugar's Unhealthy EffectsMany Health Care Providers Work While SickMore Patients Are Having a Say in Their Medical CareFDA Seeks to Speed Development of 'Regenerated' Organs for Medical UseHealth Care Experts in Favor of Patient Contribution to NotesMillions Could Miss Out on a Potential Alzheimer's BreakthroughU.S. May Still Benefit From Climate AccordHealth Tip: Spread Awareness of the Opioid Epidemic
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Health Insurance
Healthcare

New FDA Head Outlines 'Forceful Steps' Against Opioid Crisis

HealthDay News
by -- Margaret Farley Steele
Updated: May 23rd 2017

new article illustration

TUESDAY, May 23, 2017 (HealthDay News) -- The new U.S. Food and Drug Administration commissioner has called on senior agency officers to develop "more forceful steps" to control the U.S. opioid epidemic.

On Tuesday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, President Trump's pick for the agency, announced the formation of an opioid policy steering committee to explore and develop additional approaches to confront the crisis.

One solution, he said, is to cut back on unnecessarily prolonged painkiller use. Longer use increases the risk of opioid addiction.

"The majority of people who eventually become addicted to opioids are exposed first to prescription opioids," Gottlieb said in a blog post on the FDA site.

Misuse of potent painkillers such as OxyContin (oxycodone) and Vicoprofen (hydrocodone/ibuprofen) sends 1,000 Americans to emergency rooms each day. Opioid-related overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999, he said.

Gottlieb acknowledged "a lot of good work" done to date. Now, he said, "I have asked my FDA colleagues to see what additional, more forceful steps we might take to curb prescription painkiller addiction."

Those steps might include shorter-term doses of legitimate painkillers. Only a few situations require a 30-day supply of painkillers, Gottlieb said.

"We want to make sure patients have what they need," he said. But he added, a two- or three-day course of treatment is sufficient in many cases.

Gottlieb wants the steering committee to consider mandatory education for health care professionals who prescribe powerful painkillers. Such instruction might outline appropriate prescribing practices, explain signs of abuse in individual patients, and suggest how to get addicted patients into treatment.

Another key question for consideration, Gottlieb said, is whether the FDA does enough to weigh the risk of abuse when it reviews new opioid drugs for market approval.

The budget President Trump submitted to the U.S. Congress supports $27.8 billion in drug control efforts. The budget proposal includes $12.1 billion for treatment and prevention.

The request also includes more than $15 billion for drug-related law enforcement efforts, said Richard Baum, acting director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Research has shown that addiction risk starts the first day of painkiller use, Gottlieb said. In March, a study published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked one-day use of prescription painkillers to a 6 percent risk of continuing their use for more than one year. As use continued, so did the odds for addiction, Gottlieb said.

"For example, when a person's first exposure to opioids increases from one day to 30 days, that person's likelihood of continuing to use opioids after one year increases from 6 percent to about 35 percent," Gottlieb explained.

Addicts who can't get painkillers from a doctor sometimes turn to heroin, an illicit opiate. Gottlieb said recent research showed that three-quarters of heroin addicts from one study started with prescription painkillers.

The commissioner said he is seeking public input as well as professional advice on what additional steps FDA should consider to "get ahead of this crisis."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse has more about opioid addiction.