FDA Reconsiders Painkiller Training
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jun 08, 2016
With less than half of the 80,000 physicians targeted submitting to and completing a voluntary training course, according to Phillyvoice.com, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is rethinking its position on requiring training for physicians regarding long-acting opioid painkillers like OxyContin. Presently, drug makers fund voluntary educational and training programs for doctors to help them understand proper use of their product for long-term pain management. However, new statistics reported by Phillyvoice.com reveal that less than 40,000 doctors of an anticipated 80,000 doctors participated in such voluntary programs. The FDA Is now considering what additional steps it can take to help stem the problem of opioid abuse and overdose.
The Problem Presented by Long-Term Opioid Use
According to Phillyvoice.com, prescription opioid overdoses rose to approximately 19,000 cases in 2014 – a record level. This number only reflected the opioid overdose cases resulting from misuse of prescription painkillers like OxyContin. When one considers overdoses of illegal opioids like heroin, the number of overdose cases rises to almost 30,000. As the Phillyvoice.com article makes clear, individuals who are initially prescribed legal opioids to assist in long-term pain management can become addicted to opioids and switch to illegal opioids like heroin if they are unable to continue receiving OxyContin. Opioid overdose can lead to death or other significant health problems.
Who is to Blame for Opioid Overdoses?
Certainly patients must take some responsibility for not abusing or overdosing on OxyContin or other opioid medications. Not only should patients take such medications as prescribed, they should also speak with their doctor about alternatives if they notice signs of addiction. The problem is, it can be difficult for individuals to recognize signs of addiction within themselves and often do not know they are addicted to opioids until the addiction has taken a firm hold of the person’s life. By then, it can be extremely difficult to break the addiction’s hold.
However, doctors and medical professionals who prescribe long-term opioids for pain management also bear part of the blame for the problem of opioid abuse and overdoses, too. It is easy for a doctor to prescribe a long-term opioid to a patient to help him or her manage his or her pain and overlook the addictive nature of these drugs. Doctors who continue to refill prescriptions for opioid painkillers without seeing their patients to evaluate whether addiction is present, or doctors who fail to take note of how often opioid prescriptions are being filled (which can indicate overdosing and abuse), do a disservice to their patients.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured by an Opioid Overdose
Doctors who fail to take reasonable and responsible steps when prescribing opioids to patients (or who fail to take such measures when refilling prescriptions) may be committing malpractice. Having your case evaluated by the knowledgeable and compassionate medical malpractice attorneys at Cohen, Placitella, & Roth, P.C. can help you understand your rights and take steps to assert them. Call our office today or contact us through our website for prompt assistance with your case.