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FDA petitioned for painkiller label change

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Yesterday, 37 doctors, researchers, and public health officials petitioned the FDA to regulate the labels on prescription pain medication. The group hopes that changing these labels will reduce the number of overdoses that have become the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., according to Fox News.

The group asked the FDA to consider limiting narcotics to treat non-cancer patients suffering from severe pain. It also asked the FDA to label prescription drugs in such a way that would encourage doctors to limit prescription dosages as well as the time frame in which the drugs should be taken.

According to the New York Times, narcotic painkillers are prescribed more than any other class of drugs in the U.S. and account for nearly 15,000 fatal overdoses each year.

The Times also reported that narcotic drug manufacturers such as Purdue Pharma and others failed to sufficiently study the risks and benefits associated with long term use of the drugs. Typical side effects include nausea and vomiting, headache and fatigue, tolerance and addiction, and constipation, according to Livestrong.

Fox News reported the petition’s co-signer, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, chair of the psychiatry department at Maimonides Medical Center, as saying most prescription drug addicts began using the pills for legitimate reasons. However, narcotics such as OxyContin, fentanyl, and methadone are extremely potent and can create a strong dependency when taken too long.

If the FDA approves the petition, doctors would still be able to prescribe the drugs however they choose, but drug companies would be limited in how they could market them.