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Medical News & Perspectives
August 25, 2010

FDA Opioid Safety Plan Promotes Patient, Physician Education to Prevent Abuse

JAMA. 2010;304(8):845. doi:10.1001/jama.2010.1200

A proposal from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to curb overdoses of long-acting and extended-release opioid medications calls on drug makers to provide voluntary clinician and patient safety education, despite earlier statements from the agency that such steps would provide little improvement over existing safety efforts.

In February 2009, the agency first announced it would require the makers of this class of drugs to develop a joint plan to reduce unintentional overdoses involving their products. The announcement was a response to increasing rates of overdose and abuse of opioid pain medications. Data from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) show that emergency department visits involving nonmedical use of prescription opioids increased 111% between 2004 and 2008, with the estimated number of visits rising from 144 644 to 305 885 per year (MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2010;59[23]:705-709).