The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has announced it will reassess its approach to opioid medications, in an effort to reverse the epidemic of abuse.
The plan comes in response to pressure from Congress, The New York Times reports.
FDA Deputy Commissioner for Medical Products and Tobacco Dr. Robert Califf said Thursday the agency will toughen its response to the opioid crisis, while still allowing patients in pain to have access to effective relief.
The agency said it will convene an expert panel before approving new opioids. It will toughen requirements to study drugs after they come to market, and increase access to pain management training for physicians and other prescribers.
“Things are getting worse, not better, with the epidemic of opioid misuse, abuse and dependence,” Califf said in a news release. “It’s time we all took a step back to look at what is working and what we need to change to impact this crisis.”
The FDA’s plan is part of a wider government effort. Last week, President Obama said he is asking for more than $1 billion in new funding to address the opioid epidemic.
The funding would expand access to treatment for prescription drug abuse and heroin use.
Under Obama’s proposal, the new funds would be used to help people with an opioid use disorder to seek and successfully complete treatment and sustain recovery. It would expand access to substance use treatment providers and to medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorders.