In an attempt to slow the rising tide of prescription drug abuse, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking steps to limit access to a class of highly addictive painkilling substances. Effective immediately, the extended-release and long-acting versions of popular opioids such as oxycodone, fentanyl and morphine sulfate will no longer be sanctioned for use by patients suffering from moderate levels of chronic pain.
Back in 1998, the satirical newspaper The Onion featured the following front-page headline: “Drugs Win Drug War”
This introduction and the story that followed were obviously intended as a spoof, but humor is frequently used as a subtle way to reveal the truth and that was undoubtedly the intent in this case.
When voters go to the polls on November 6th, in many states and localities they will be asked to vote on referendums and ballot initiatives that touch on a wide variety of public concerns and issues. While most of these propositions have received little publicity, there are three that are generating quite a bit of discussion and controversy.
Although the U.S. government has announced its plans to help reduce the number of people who abuse drugs as well as the number of people who fall ill or die because of drug abuse, some say the Obama administration should be allocating even more money to the cause.
If the FDA heeds the warnings of a federal advisory panel, Percocet and Vicodin, two powerful painkillers, could be banned from the US market. The panel recently voted to recommend a ban on the two drugs because of their damaging effects on the liver. Both drugs contain acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol and Excedrin, and high doses of acetaminophen are a leading cause of liver damage. The panel noted that people who take Percocet and Vicodin for long periods of time often need higher and higher doses to achieve the same painkilling effects.
Just two weeks after federal judges ordered California to reduce its prison population, an arm of the Schwarzenegger administration will vote on increased funding to police anti-drug units, which could put even more drug offenders in jail.