FDA slaps restrictions on painkillers

Some doctors might call this a pain: FDA is considering new controls on narcotics in hopes of preventing abuse. The agency would restrict the infamous extended-release opioids like OxyContin; it's one of the most abused prescription drugs. The controls would also apply to fentanyl patches, methadone tablets, and some morphine pills, the New York Times reports.

These products already carry various restrictions on their use. But FDA wants to do more, since hundreds of patients die because they took the drugs inappropriately--either by mistake or deliberately--or were given faulty prescriptions in the first place. Plus, companies that make a few of these drugs have run into trouble for overaggressive marketing; Purdue Pharma execs, for instance, pleaded guilty to charges that the company had misled docs into thinking that OxyContin was less likely to be abused because of its long-acting formula.

"What we're talking about is putting in place a program to try to ensure that physicians prescribing these products are properly trained in their safe use, and that only those physicians are prescribing those products," said Dr. John Jenkins, who directs the FDA's new drug center. "It's a massive program."

- read the New York Times story