FDA plan requires opioid makers to fund anti-abuse CME

Making strong painkillers now comes with extra responsibility. The FDA has unveiled new measures aimed at nipping opioid abuse in the bud. They require drugmakers to fund educational courses for doctors and deliver more safety information to patients, hoping that better-informed prescribers and users can help.

"The problem of prescription drug abuse and misuse is very real," said Dr. Margaret Hamburg, the head of the FDA. "Educating healthcare professionals on how to safely prescribe (the medicines) is essential to address this critical public health issue."

But, as The Wall Street Journal points out, FDA can't require healthcare providers to take the classes. It can only mandate that the drugmakers--and there are more than 20 companies that make these powerful painkillers--provide grants for independently produced continuing medical education courses. The expectation is that at least 60% of prescribers will take the classes by 2016.

Who's most likely to sign up for the new CME? Well-intentioned doctors and other prescribers, the WSJ notes. "The people who are going to take those courses are the prescribers who are already diligent," the Center for Lawful Access and Abuse Deterrence's Michael C. Barnes told the newspaper. "What we need to do is get to those prescribers who aren't already diligent."

- see the WSJ piece
- get more from Reuters

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