In its latest move to curb the prescription opioid abuse epidemic, the FDA wants drugmakers to provide educational programs about managing pain and responsible ways of using opioids to doctors and other healthcare professionals.
FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, speaking Monday at the start of a 2-day meeting on the impact of abuse-resistant opioids, said that the training would apply to immediate-release opioids, which account for 90% of the 200 million opioid prescriptions he says are written each year. Most of the opioids that have abuse-deterrent properties — which make them difficult to inject or snort — are extended-release versions.
“The new training will be aimed at making sure providers who write prescriptions for the IR opioids are doing so for properly indicated patients, and under appropriate clinical circumstances,” he said. He added that the training would also look at non-pharmacological methods and non-opioid drugs to deal with pain.
Gottlieb also said the FDA will survey physicians to find out their views on abuse-deterrent opioids, since he is concerned many of them may mistakenly believe that these drugs are somehow less likely to lead to addiction. “Patients can still become addicted to opioid products with abuse-deterrent features,” he noted.
In an interview with NBC News, Gottlieb said that opioid prescriptions should be written for a shorter period of time. “I believe there are still too many 30-day prescriptions being written for conditions like dental procedures or minor surgery, which should require very short-term use, if they require an opioid prescription at all,” he told the network.
The FDA meeting follows last week’s announcement from Endo International that it will comply with the agency’s request to remove its extended-release, abuse-deterrent opioid, Opana ER, from the market.
Jonathan Block is MedShadow’s content editor. He has previously worked for Psychiatry Advisor, Modern Healthcare, Health Reform Week and The Pink Sheet.