Panel Rejects Plan to Curb Drug Abuse
Although the Food and Drug Administration has quite a bit of leverage when it comes to regulating the drug industry, there are some actions that literally require an act of Congress to enforce; there are limits to what the agency can mandate.
Take, for example, the current FDA plan to try to reign in the distribution and abuse of strong narcotics such as Oxycontin, fentanyl, and methadone. An advisory panel made up of health care professionals rejected the proposal because it did not require physicians to go through training as a precursor to prescribing the drugs, the New York Times is reporting.
Such an action, however, is not within the FDA’s grasp; even if it was, those who came up with the plan fear that such enforcement would cause physicians to skip the entire process and not provide the drugs to the public when necessary. As a compromise, the proposal urges physicians to attend voluntary training.
The agency began to craft a plan in response to the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse. According to the National Institute on Drug abuse, 15.2 million people aged 12 and older took a prescription pain killer, stimulant, tranquilizer or sedative for “nonmedical purposes” in 2008.
A news release from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration states that from 1998-2008, admissions to treatment centers for prescription drug abuse increased four-fold. The increase covers all segments of the population, regardless of age, education level, employment status and gender.
A. Thomas Mclellan, Deputy Director of National Drug Control Policy states, “Our national prescription drug abuse problem cannot be ignored. I have worked in the treatment field for the last 35 years, and recent trends regarding the extent of prescription drug abuse are startling. We must work with prescribers, the pharmaceutical industry, and families to help us fight this scourge.”