AirTalk for October 28, 2013

FDA wants to restrict access to addictive painkillers

An automated robot arm picks up a bottle

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images

Will patients see their access restricted to needed medications?

Prescription drugs account for about three-quarters of all overdose deaths in the United States and some experts say easy access to narcotics is contributing to the high number. On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration announced new proposals to restrict access to some of the most commonly used narcotics.

Doctors use these drugs - marketed as drugs like Vicodin or Lortab - to treat patients for pain from injuries, surgeries and even arthritis. The changes would require patients to hand in a paper prescription at the pharmacy rather than accepting them over the phone and it would cut the number of refills a patient could have without going back to see a doctor.  The FDA's proposal will be submitted to the Drug Enforcement Agency in December for review.

Should milder painkillers that mix hydrocodone and an over-the-counter painkiller like acetaminophen or aspirin be as tightly controlled as heavily addictive drugs like OxyContin? Will patients see their access restricted to needed medications? When the FDA cracked down on OxyContin, did the rate of abuse drop?

Guests: 

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, M.D. Chief Medical Officer of Phoenix House, a nonprofit addiction treatment organization and he is President of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP)

Robert Twillman, Director of Advocacy and Policy for the American Academy of Pain Management


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