AG Gansler Asks FDA to Make Generic Pain Pills Harder to Abuse
48 AG's call for more tamper and abuse-resistant prescription drugs
Baltimore, MD ( March 11, 2013) - Generic versions of popular pain relievers should be made harder to abuse, Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler and 47 other state and territorial attorneys general urged federal officials in a letter sent today by the National Association of Attorneys General.
"Over-the-counter pain medications are the narcotic of choice for far too many of our friends and neighbors because they are inexpensive, easy to obtain and produce similar highs to traditional illegal narcotics when taken in high volume," said Attorney General Gansler. "We can and must do more to prevent prescription drug abuse from claiming more victims."
The letter from the 48 attorneys general encourages the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt standards requiring manufacturers and marketers of generic prescription painkillers to develop tamper- and abuse-resistant versions of their products.
"Adding new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids to deter abuse could reduce misuse of these drugs and the sometimes deadly consequences," the letter states. "These products can be part of a comprehensive approach which should include prevention, interdiction, prosecution and substance-abuse treatment."
Prescription drug abuse is on the rise nationwide, and prescription pain relievers are among the most commonly abused drugs. Manufacturers of name-brand versions of painkillers such as OxyContin have taken steps to make it more difficult to abuse their drugs; for example, by making it harder to crush pills into a powder form, which abusers do in order to inject or snort the drug.
"In our states, nonmedical users are shifting away from the new tamper-resistant formulations to non-tamper-resistant formulations of other opioids as well as to illegal drugs. There is great concern in our law enforcement community that many non-tamper-resistant products are available for abuse when only a few products have been formulated with tamper-resistant features," the attorneys general wrote in their letter to the FDA.
Prescription drugs can be deadly when abused or used incorrectly. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the United States, exceeding even motor vehicle deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.