People complain that the F.D.A. takes far too long in approving “new” drugs, but they seem to be equally obtuse in pointing out the dangers of using drugs they have already approved. According to a new article appearing in the New York Times, the F.D.A seeks tighter control on prescriptions for class of painkillers. I suppose we should be grateful that the guys and gals in the white robes in D.C. have finally come to their senses and realize that we now have a nation of addicts: addicted to prescription and generic pain killers all approved by the F.D.A. How sweet!
The “debate” is not without its polemics as this lengthy excerpt from the New York Times article suggests:
“In 2011, about 131 million prescriptions for hydrocodone-containing medications were written for some 47 million patients, according to government estimates. That volume of prescriptions amounts to about five billion pills.
Technically, the change involves the reclassification of hydrocodone-containing painkillers as “Schedule II” medications from their current classification as “Schedule III” drugs. The scheduling system, which is overseen by the D.E.A., classifies drugs based on their medical use and their potential for abuse and addiction.
Schedule II drugs are those drugs with the highest potential for abuse that can be legally prescribed. The group includes painkillers like oxycodone, the active ingredient in OxyContin, methadone and fentanyl as well as medications like Adderall and Ritalin, which are prescribed for attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.
In recent years, the question of whether to tighten prescribing controls over hydrocodone-containing drugs has been the subject of intense lobbying.
Last year, for example, lobbyists for druggists and chain pharmacies mobilized to derail a measure passed in the Senate that would mandate the types of restrictions that the F.D.A. is now recommending.
At the time, the lobbying arm of the American Cancer Society also said that making patients see doctors more often to get prescriptions would impose added burdens and costs on them.
Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, expressed dismay when the proposal died in the House of Representatives.
“They got their victory – but not at my expense,” said Mr. Manchin, whose state has been hard hit by prescription drug abuse. “The people who will pay the price are the young boys and girls in communities across this nation.”
As SFTT has been reporting for many months, prescription drug abuse with terrible side-effects is chronic among the many brave warriors returning from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sadly, treating the symptoms with OxyContin and other toxic pain-relievers has been the panacea prescribed by the VA. Despite clear and irrefutable evidence that this was causing more harm than good for warriors suffering from PTS and TBI, the lobbyists and their political pundits in government were reluctant to pull the plug on what is little more than government-sponsored drug addiction.
Finally, we may get an opening to help these brave young men and women rebuild their lives without the terrible consequences of addiction.