Washington – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Tuesday that Americans will begin to see “black box warnings” about the risk of abuse on fast-acting opioid painkillers. Prescription opioids can lead to addiction and overdose deaths and the alarming epidemic in the nation has led the White House, Congress, and regulatory agencies to take action on the matter.
Opioids are a kind of narcotic pain medications that includes morphine and other prescription drugs like Percocet and OxyContin, as well as the illegal heroin.
The just-released guidelines the FDA announced a call for the prescription labels to warn people that opioid abuse can trigger a potentially lethal central nervous system reaction if they happen to interact with migraine medications and antidepressants.
The new labels will also warn that the abuse of these prescription drugs can lead to a rare condition that consists of the adrenal glands not producing enough cortisol, a hormone responsible for helping the body handle stress.
Labels will also clarify that long-term exposure to opioid is linked to lower sex hormone levels, meaning that the affected people may experience a reduced interest in sex, as well as infertility and impotence.
Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new guidelines that call for healthcare providers to recommend less addictive pain relievers such as ibuprofen and aspirin, before thinking about prescribing opioids to patients. The CDC guidelines are not mandatory but the institute strongly advises doctors to prescribe opioids mainly for short-term pain episodes for up to seven days.
Democrats and Republicans speak up
The White House announced on Tuesday afternoon that President Barack Obama would speak at the National Prescription Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit scheduled for March 29 in Atlanta.
On the same day, the White House sent letters to all governors featuring the best practices that U.S. states have taken to fight substance abuse, including legislation by 14 states requiring all prescribers to receive opioid training and legislation by 22 states requiring pharmacists to send drug-dispensing data to state prescription opioid monitoring program within a day.
Republican U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan of Bradenton visited St. Joseph’s Hospital-South on Monday to talk about his perspective of the best way the medical community and federal government can tackle the situation and prevent drug abuse.
President Obama’s budget proposal for 2017 includes $1.1 billion in new federal money to fight the increasing abuse of prescription painkillers and heroin in the United States.
Source: The Sacramento Bee