FDA Criticized for Lack of Controls over Increasing Prescription Narcotic Abuse

August 22, 2011
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The rise in prescription drug abuse in this country has been muted somewhat by the traditional messaging by anti-drug campaigns which advocate the overarching “just say no” philosophy … and have done so since the heady days of the Reagan administration some 25 years ago. A different kind of advocacy is needed, say the appropriate groups; that is, one of attention toward the ripple effect of the “other” illicit drug — the prescription narcotic (including, most notably, hydrocodone and oxycodone).

The rise in prescription drug abuse in this country has been muted somewhat by the traditional messaging by anti-drug campaigns which advocate the overarching “just say no” philosophy … and have done so since the heady days of the Reagan administration some 25 years ago. A different kind of advocacy is needed, say the appropriate groups; that is, one of attention toward the ripple effect of the “other” illicit drug — the prescription narcotic (including, most notably, hydrocodone and oxycodone).

In scenarios in which the levels of violent crimes (pharmacy robberies and assaults) are belied by the common perceptions of acquisition of such drugs (petty theft, paper script forgeries, etc), it’s easy to see why some say the FDA has been lukewarm at efforts to control this burgeoning problem.

The 12-year delay in the federal regulators’ final decision about hydrocodone – the second most-abused pain drug – has been agonizing, to say the least — all the more so as the Drug Enforcement Administration and Food and Drug Administration are apparently still studying whether to move hydrocodone-containing medicines to Schedule II category of medicines from the less restrictive Schedule III. Advocates for tighter controls over hydrocodone opine that it is time the government took concrete action to save lives — since a study funded by the National Institutes of Health has shown that nearly 8 percent of the 12th-graders in the US have abused hydrocodone in the last year.

 

The agency says many factors — chief among them the logistics involved in augmenting widespread training and retraining of healthcare providers as to the merits of prescribing in this new climate of addiction — have complicated movement forward on the matter. It’s a problem that’s not going away anytime soon. Those hoping for a sweeping decision by the FDA to correct things are better off considering scenarios in which the government agency can partner with other entities to begin to address oversight in prescribing lapses, formulary monitoring, and drug utilization reviews in healthcare organizations. | LINK

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