Target: Food and Drug Administration
Goal: Commend FDA for warning consumers about dangerous painkillers.
Both the legal and illegal use of prescription narcotics has skyrocketed in the past twenty years. Doctors are writing prescriptions more often, and patients are requesting the drugs more often. As a result, over-dose deaths from these painkillers have raised sharply. The drugs covered by the new label include Oxycontin, oxycodone, morphine and about 17 other long-acting narcotics. These drugs are legal and are necessary in many cases for medical use, but use of the strongest painkillers should only be called for in the strictest of circumstances and should be strictly mandated. Both patients and doctors need to realize the importance of taking care with these drugs. Commend the FDA for working harder to warn both doctors and patients about the seriousness of the drug.
As far as narcotics go, there is a huge difference between long-acting and immediate-release medications such as Oxycontin, and Vicodin, which are both narcotic pain medications. Oxycontin is created in a time-release pill, meant to give the user spread out effects of the drug over a long-acting period of time. Vicodin is fast acting, and is much less potent. Oxycontin is typically prescribed to patients with severe, chronic pain, whether due to surgeries or cancer, while Vicodin is used more commonly after dental work or a broken bone. However, previously, the recommendation on Oxycontin bottles stated, “moderate to severe pain.” This can be misleading to patients, who do not realize when reading this that the drug could have seriously consequences to their health, such as overdose or addiction. Or perhaps they could end up taking a strong narcotic such as Oxycontin, when their medical condition didn’t call for something so potent. By reading the label, they could then notify their provider to ask for something not as strong.
Thankfully, the FDA has just changed their new recommendation on to describe it as one used, “only for pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock treatment that can’t be managed with alternatives, such as over-the-counter medications or immediate-release opioids.” Also, the drug will be packaged with further warnings about the signs of opioid withdrawal, and health consequences such as using the medicine while pregnant or nursing. They are hoping to encourage physicians to only prescribe this medicine when it is truly needed, and show patients that any unnecessary use of such a strong drug should come completely avoided.
The two largest problems that rise from prescription pill misuse are overdose rates and addiction. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2010, 16,650 deaths resulted as overdoses from narcotic medication which was being misused. This is 12% higher than the overdose figure for the year 2008. The CDC also reported that between 1999 and 2010, only 11 years, rates of women dying by painkiller overdose has increased fivefold. This is an alarming statistic, and it’s about time the FDA did something to address the drugs.
Sign this petition to thank the FDA for recognizing that a change needed to be made to make both doctors and citizens think twice about how serious these drugs are.
Dear Food and Drug Administration,
The U.S. has seen shocking new rates of both addiction and overdose by people who have been taking narcotic painkillers. Between the years 2008 and 2012, the rate of overdose caused by these medications raised 12%. The CDC has also shown that women are most vulnerable, as the women’s overdose rate has increased fivefold between 1999-2010.
Consumers as well as their doctors may be unaware of how dangerous long-acting narcotics really are. They also may be misinformed as to how many are safe to take, at what times, and how to properly take the medicine. Deciding to change the label and include risks of withdrawal symptoms along with the boxes is a very smart move, and is an excellent first step toward changing the cultural attitude towards these strong drugs. Patients and doctors alike need to start treating these drugs like they are dangerous because they are, and use them with much more caution.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: United Health One