FDA Should Add “Black Box” Warning to Opioids and Benzodiazepines

FDA Should Add “Black Box” Warning to Opioids and Benzodiazepines
Officials from state and local health departments around the country are urging the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to add “black box” warnings to opioid painkillers and sedatives known as benzodiazepines, to alert people that taking them together increases the risk of fatal overdoses. Recently, health officials submitted a petition to the FDA about the warnings, The Washington Post reports. The petition urges the FDA to adopt labeling for all opioid medications that reads: “Warning: Concurrent use with benzodiazepines reduces the margin of safety for respiratory depression and contributes to the risk of fatal overdose, particularly in the setting of misuse.” A similar warning would be placed on benzodiazepines, warning about mixing the drugs with opioids. “Existing warnings about the concurrent use of opioids and benzodiazepines are inconsistent, infrequent, and insufficient. The FDA should act swiftly on the clear scientific evidence and add black box warnings to both classes of...
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Study Finds Systematic Efforts May Help Reduce Opioid Doses

Study Finds Systematic Efforts May Help Reduce Opioid Doses
Systematic efforts may help lower the level of opioids that patients use, a new study concludes. These steps include educating prescribers and limiting doses for patients prescribed chronic opioid therapy. The study found taking these steps also raises awareness among doctors and patients of the potential dangers of opioids, MedicalXpress reports. The study included 514 patients prescribed long-term opioid treatment. In one group of patients, an aggressive program to educate doctors, patients, and promote safe tapering of opioid doses helped 37 percent of patients taper their doses to what is considered a safer level—120 milligrams daily of “morphine equivalent.” In many cases, patient doses were cut almost in half. Women were less successful with opioid tapering, the article notes. Patients who took substantially lower opioid doses did not report higher levels of pain. The researchers noted that one year after the opioid tapering program was introduced, only a minority of...
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Shortage of Opioid Treatment in Vermont Mirrors National Problem

Shortage of Opioid Treatment in Vermont Mirrors National Problem
Almost 500 people in Vermont are on waiting lists to receive medication to treat their opioid dependence, Stateline reports. More than half will wait almost a full year. Vermont has 248 doctors licensed to prescribe buprenorphine, the article notes. Most treat only their existing patients who have opioid dependence. Last month, Stateline reported that despite the rising rate of addiction to opioids, a relatively small number of doctors nationwide are authorized and willing to prescribe buprenorphine to treat opioid addiction. Fewer than 32,000 doctors are authorized to prescribe the treatment, and most doctors with a license to prescribe buprenorphine seldom, if ever, use it. In contrast, more than 900,000 U.S. doctors can write prescriptions for painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet. Studies have found that opioid addiction medicines like buprenorphine, which is approved by the Food and Drug Administration, offer a much higher chance of recovery than treatments not...
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FBI Video, “Chasing the Dragon,” Illustrates Opiate Addiction’s Toll

FBI Video, “Chasing the Dragon,” Illustrates Opiate Addiction’s Toll
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has created a documentary that illustrates the toll of opiate addiction, The Kansas City Star reports. The film, called “Chasing the Dragon,” will be distributed to school districts nationwide and can be downloaded for free. High school students are a principal target audience of the film. The documentary is designed to send a message of deterrence to young people thinking of trying drugs, or who are just starting to use them. The film features several people who either abused opiates or had family members who did so. Those who abused opiates explain how they began with prescription drugs. They describe how they devoted themselves to trying to maintain the initial high, and how they stole from or lied to friends and family members in an attempt to pay for their addiction. Among 46,000 drug overdoses counted nationwide in 2015, about half could be traced...
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Opioid Painkiller Use For More Than One Month May Increase Depression Risk

Opioid Painkiller Use For More Than One Month May Increase Depression Risk
Using opioid painkillers for more than one month may increase the risk of depression, a new study suggests. People who take opioids and feel depressed should be aware that the drugs, and not just the pain, may be a potential cause, the researchers say. While pain itself can be a cause of depression, the researchers found a link between opioids and depression even when they took patients’ pain into account, Fox News reports. “We really did rigorous control for pain, and we feel strongly that these results are independent of the known contribution of pain to depression,” said study author Jeffrey Scherrer of Saint Louis University in Missouri. The study included data from three groups of people who started taking opioids around the time the study began. One group had almost 71,000 people, while the second group had almost 14,000 people and the third had almost 23,000 people. None of...
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Facing Addiction and The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) are proud to announce the merger of our organizations – creating a national leader in turning the tide on the addiction epidemic.
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