Is Action Being Taken to Curb the Tide of the Opioid Epidemic?

Misinformation may have been one cause for the opioid crisis which has taken a staggering toll on citizens across this country. According to the CDC, there have been more than 300,000 deaths from prescription and illegal opioids since 2000. NBC news recently reported that a drug-dependent baby is born every 25 minutes.

In 1995 the FDA approved controlled-release Oxycontin. At that time the information given about it read “delayed absorption as provided by OxyContin tablets is believed to reduce the abuse liability of a drug” and that “addiction to opioids used for legitimate pain management was “very rare.” This murky information was taken to heart by Purdue Pharma, which then began marketing the drug very aggressively for moderate and chronic pain. After a decade, the company was and held accountable for wrongdoing and fined $600 million because it had promoted Oxycontin as less addictive than other painkillers.

Over the past several years, pharmaceutical companies, the DEA, and doctors and have come under scrutiny for enhancing the opioid epidemic in the United States. However, some experts, suggest the FDA should have asked for more evidence from the drug manufacturers to prove the opioids were less addictive.

According to NBC News, these experts imply that the FDA could have prevented the crisis. Even as recently as 2014 the FDA approved another very powerful opioid called Zohydro. This happened even after the objections of their advisory committee, which voted 11-2 against it.

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the 23rd Commissioner of Food and Drugs stated that the FDA is taking steps to strengthen drug warnings and action against companies for misleading marketing and drug promotion. They are also and taking important measures to enhance safe and proper use, and steps against parties who illegally import and sell of opioids.

Dr. Gottlieb’s action since taking the post in May 2017, have been received well by the likes of Senator Joseph Manchin of West Virginia where the crisis has hit particularly hard. The FDA recently pushed the opioid, Opana, off the market  because its abuse risk was too high. Gottlieb has also shored up efforts to find and curb drugs being sent by mail. In addition, the FDA notified 74 drug manufacturers that they will have to provide more training to doctors and medical professionals who write pain-control prescriptions. Still, the battle rages and the Trump Administration is doing little to nothing but cut health programs.

“It is easy to dodge our responsibilities, but we cannot dodge the consequences of dodging our responsibilities.”—Josiah Stamp

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