Tuesday, July 10, 2012

FDA Rejects Call for Special Training Before Prescribing Narcotic Painkillers

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its decision yesterday about the need for mandatory training by physicians before they would be allowed to prescribe opioid painkillers for their patients. Its conclusion was that specialized training would not be required as a precondition for prescribing this often-abused category of medication, but that the 20 or so companies that manufacture these medications would be "required to make education programs available to prescribers.... It is expected that the companies will meet this obligation by providing educational grants to continuing education providers, that will develop and deliver the training." The FDA said as well that drug companies "will be expected to achieve certain FDA-established goals for the percentage of prescribers of opioids who complete the training, as well as assess prescribers' understanding of important risk information over time." The companies will have to conduct "periodic assessments of the implementation of the [program] and the success of the program in meeting its goals" and are responsible for covering the cost of the programs.

Nearly 23 million prescriptions for opioid pain medications were written last year, according to the FDA, and these drugs are linked to widespread "overuse, abuse, misuse, and death, and the numbers continue to rise." Nearly 15,600 deaths were attributed to opioid painkillers in 2009. The first of the continuing education activities will be offered by March 1, 2013.

Read more about use and misuse of opioid pain medications in Psychiatric News here and here.

(image: Tatik22/Shutterstock.com)


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