The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reported that doctors will not need special training before they can prescribe long-term narcotic painkillers to their patients that can lead to addiction, a ruling that goes against an expert panel’s recommendation, reports The New York Times.
However, the FDA did state companies that make drugs such as methadone, OxyContin and fentanyl will be required to pay for voluntary programs that teach physicians how best to utilize them.
The decision comes after years of discussion and deliberation by the FDA as to how best to approach increasingly wide spread prescription painkiller abuse in the United States. Back in 2010, an outside expert panel created by the FDA strongly rejected voluntary doctor training, claiming that training needed to be mandatory to help lower the rates of strong painkiller misuse, and to make sure that patients received the correct treatment using them.
In the last ten years, deaths related to the abuse of prescription painkillers have reached epidemic proportions, and while the Obama administration has voiced support for mandatory doctor training, they have not yet drafted any legislation that supports it.
Meanwhile, doctor groups like the American Medical Association have rejected the concept of mandatory training programs because of fears that it could decrease the number of doctors that could treat patients suffering from pain.
Long-term use of prescription painkillers may also be linked to other problems other than addiction, like sleep apnea, increased falls and fractures in people over the age of 70, and low hormone production.
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