Drug Distributor Faces Federal Criminal Charges for Role in Opioid Epidemic
The federal government has brought the first criminal charges against a drug distributor for its role in the opioid epidemic, Reuters reports.
A panel of experts convened by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is meeting this week to consider whether to require doctors to undergo training to prescribe opioid painkillers. Doctors’ groups have resisted mandatory training, The New York Times reports.
In 2012, the FDA rejected a recommendation from an expert panel that called for mandatory physician training for opioid prescribing. The panel said such training might help reduce overdose deaths from opioid painkillers.
A spokeswoman for the FDA told the newspaper the agency now supports mandatory training. The panel is expected to make a recommendation on Wednesday.
Since 2012, the FDA has required companies that make long-acting opioids, such as OxyContin, methadone and fentanyl, to underwrite voluntary medical education courses on prescribing the drugs. Last week, many of those companies said they support requiring physicians to have specific training or expertise in pain management before they can obtain a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration to prescribe extended-release/long-acting opioids.
The American Medical Association (AMA) opposes mandatory opioid training for doctors, because many of them do not prescribe the drugs, according to Dr. Patrice A. Harris, who is the chairwoman of the AMA’s Task Force to Reduce Prescription Opioid Abuse.
The AMA also opposes laws that require doctors to check prescription drug monitoring databases before they issue an opioid prescription, Dr. Harris noted. These laws are designed to help doctors identify patients who are “doctor shopping,” or obtaining prescriptions from multiple providers.
Some doctors say checking prescription databases are time-consuming. Many doctors believe their practices and their patients are not responsible for the opioid epidemic, experts say.
According to Timothy Condon, a former official at the National Institute on Drug Abuse, doctor groups oppose what they see as over-regulation by the government.