Opioid Pain Relievers without Safety Features Could Return to the Market in January
WASHINGTON, Nov. 12, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, a national organization dedicated to reducing prescription drug abuse urged communities to take extra precautions to prevent medication overdoses. The not-for-profit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) warned that pain pills without added safety features are expected to flood back into communities in the coming weeks unless the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) takes preventive action.
In recent years, the makers of the powerful opioid pain relievers OxyContin and Opana removed their traditional products from the market in favor of new versions designed to impede certain forms of intentional abuse. Preliminary, peer-reviewed evidence indicates that dealers and abusers have less interest in the new drugs with abuse-deterrent features. The new medications cost no more to consumers than their prior formulations.
"Pharmaceutical companies have an obligation to make their products safer," said Michael Barnes, spokesman for CLAAD.
Several drug companies have asked the FDA to approve generic versions of these medications that do not have abuse-deterrent properties. The FDA could allow the old formulations of the drugs to return to market as early as January 2013.
"Parents, health care providers, and law enforcement must be prepared to confront the resurgence of more readily abused pain medications, and the overdoses that could follow," Barnes said.
Earlier this month, CLAAD and nine other public health and safety organizations sent a letter to the FDA urging it to take swift action to foster the widespread adoption of abuse-deterrent medications and to prevent the marketing of generic versions of the drugs that do not have similar safety features.
A bill before the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 6160, would require all manufacturers of opioid pain relievers to utilize abuse-deterrent technologies. However, the measure is not likely to pass before January.
About the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence
The not-for-profit Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence (CLAAD) enables health professionals, law enforcement, businesses, and government, among other entities, to share resources and work together to reduce prescription drug abuse, addiction, and overdoses. CLAAD's National Prescription Drug Abuse Prevention Strategy has been endorsed by 30 non-profit organizations and may be accessed online at www.claad.org. Follow @claad_coalition on Twitter.
 Cicero TJ, Ellis MS, Surratt HL. Effect of abuse-deterrent formulation of OxyContin. New England Journal of Medicine. 2012;367(2):187-189.