Generic versions of popular pain relievers must be made harder to abuse, Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin and 47 other state and territorial attorneys general told federal officials in a letter sent today by the National Association of Attorneys General.
The letter encourages the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt standards requiring manufacturers and marketers of generic prescription painkillers to develop tamper- and abuse-resistant versions of their products.
"Adding new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids to deter abuse could reduce misuse of these drugs and the sometimes deadly consequences. These products can be part of a comprehensive approach which should include prevention, interdiction, prosecution and substance-abuse treatment," the letter states. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise across the country, and prescription pain relievers are among the most commonly abused drugs. Name-brand versions of painkillers such as OxyContin have taken steps to make it more difficult to abuse their drugs, for example by making it harder to crush pills which abusers do in order to inject or snort the drug. "In our states, nonmedical users are shifting away from the new tamper-resistant formulations to non-tamper-resistant formulations of other opioids as well as to illegal drugs. There is great concern in our law enforcement community that many non-tamper-resistant products are available for abuse when only a few products have been formulated with tamper-resistant features," the attorneys general wrote in their letter to the FDA. Attorney General Kilmartin has led efforts in Rhode Island to stem prescription drug abuse by partnering with the Drug Enforcement Administration in holding statewide Prescription Drug Take Back Days and supporting the ban on synthetic opioids.
"We cannot ignore the growing dangers of prescription drug abuse. While we can educate the public about the dangers and prosecute those who misdirect prescription drugs for illegal uses, we need the pharmaceutical industry to do their part by making their products tamper and abuse resistant," said Attorney General Kilmartin. When abused or used incorrectly, prescription drugs can be deadly. Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the United States exceeding even motor vehicle deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.