FDA: New Safety Measures For Narcotic Painkillers

FDA: New Safety Measures For Narcotic Painkillers

September 10, 2013 Updated Sep 10, 2013 at 4:48 PM EST

(FDA news release) The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday announced class-wide safety labeling changes and new postmarket study requirements for all extended-release and long-acting opioid analgesics intended to treat pain.

“The FDA is invoking its authority to require safety labeling changes and postmarket studies to combat the crisis of misuse, abuse, addiction, overdose, and death from these potent drugs that have harmed too many patients and devastated too many families and communities,” FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said in a news release. “Today’s action demonstrates the FDA’s resolve to reduce the serious risks of long-acting and extended release opioids while still seeking to preserve appropriate access for those patients who rely on these medications to manage their pain.”

According to the FDA news release:

Given the serious risks of using ER/LA opioids, the class-wide labeling changes, when final, will include important new language to help health care professionals tailor their prescribing decisions based on a patient’s individual needs.

The updated indication states that ER/LA opioids are indicated for the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate.

The updated indication further clarifies that, because of the risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, even at recommended doses, and because of the greater risks of overdose and death, these drugs should be reserved for use in patients for whom alternative treatment options (e.g., non-opioid analgesics or immediate-release opioids) are ineffective, not tolerated, or would be otherwise inadequate to provide sufficient management of pain; ER/LA opioid analgesics are not indicated for as-needed pain relief.

“The FDA’s primary tool for informing prescribers about the approved uses of medications is the product labeling,” said Douglas Throckmorton, M.D., deputy director for regulatory programs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. “These labeling changes describe more clearly the risks and safety concerns associated with ER/LA opioids and will encourage better, more appropriate, prescribing, monitoring and patient counseling practices involving these drugs.”




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