An advisory panel to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has recommended that physicians who prescribe opioid painkillers should receive training on the risks of overusing immediate release (IR), extended-release (ER), and long-acting (LA) formulations of pain medications. The committee made the endorsement following a hearing held May 3–4, 2016, in which its 30 members unanimously voted to revise current ER/LA opioid analgesic Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS).
Explore this issue:June 2016
The panel made the recommendation amid an epidemic of deaths resulting from and addictions to opioid painkillers in the United States. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), almost 19,000 deaths involved prescription opioids in 2014—an increase from approximately 16,000 deaths in 2013.
In commenting on the recommendation, Anna H. Messner, MD, professor and vice chair, and residency program director of otolaryngology-head and neck surgery at Stanford Children’s Health in California, said, “It is very important for otolaryngologists to understand the benefits and limitations of any type of medication that they prescribe regularly. If the training helps to decrease the amount of opioid abuse and leads to fewer otolaryngologists prescribing narcotics when it’s not necessary, then it’s a good thing.”