In 2009, a total of 15,597 deaths involving opioid pain relievers occurred. That number is nearly four times higher than the total drug injuries and fatalities in 1999. In response, the government has launched an all-out offensive against an epidemic of patients abusing opioids. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced measures to better regulate these medications.
A press release issued today by the agency says that it had approved a set of strategies aimed at addressing the problem of the high levels of abuse seen with opioids. The most important aspect of the strategy is education for both those who prescribe the medication and the patient.
More than 20 companies who produce opioid pain relievers will now be required to fund educational programs to educate prescribers on the newest information available on opioids. The FDA expects these companies to train at least 60 percent of the 320,000 prescribers nationwide within three years.
Patients will now receive educational materials on how to properly use these drugs. Companies will conduct periodic assessments of both the success of the program and its goals.
The agency had also issued cease and desist orders to all companies who were manufacturing and marketing unapproved versions of the drug, Oxycodone.