What steps have the FDA and CDC taken to combat opioid abuse?

Updated: Jun 21, 2018
  • Author: David W Dixon, DO; Chief Editor: Glen L Xiong, MD  more...
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In 2014, the FDA announced that extended-release and long-acting (ER/LA) opioid pain relievers should be restricted for use only in the management of severe pain that requires daily, around-the-clock treatment because alternative treatments were inadequate. Labels added include warnings, which state that long-term maternal use of ER/LA opioid pain relievers could result in potentially fatal neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. One of the drugs approved in 2014 was hydrocodone bitartrate, an extended-release formulation with abuse-deterrent properties, designed to be hard to crush, break, dissolve, or prepare for injection. [8] These announcements were made in an effort to combat the epidemic of addiction and fatal overdoses associated with opioid abuse. [9]

In 2016, the CDC released final recommendations for prescribing opioids for chronic pain to combat the epidemic of prescription overdoses. The primary recommendation states that opioids should not be first-line treatment for chronic pain. Health care providers should first consider nonopioid pain relievers or nonpharmacological options. Other recommendations include conducting a urine test before opioid therapy, starting at the lowest dose possible and avoiding doses of 90 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) or more, prescribing immediate-release as opposed to longer-acting opioids, and limiting treatment for acute pain to usually no more than 7 days. [10]

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