Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack (CA-45), Co-Chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, released the following statement after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced final plans today to require nearly two dozen companies that make so-called "extended release or long-acting painkillers" to provide expanded education to prescribers and consumers about the risks of addiction:
"While this is a step in the right direction, why has it taken the FDA nearly three years to act? How many people have died needlessly in the meantime? For years, my goal has been to improve prescriber education by getting doctors, dentists, nurse practitioners and other prescribers up to speed on the dangers of addiction and to make certain that powerful and seductive narcotic prescription drugs, such as Oxycontin, are used to treat severe pain only -- not moderate pain like a tooth ache or sore knee.
"Today, two classes of medicines -- painkillers and insomnia/anxiety drugs -- are responsible for about 70 deaths and nearly 3,000 emergency room visits a day. These are truly stunning numbers. But here's what's even more alarming: The death toll from overdoses of these powerfully addictive medicines claims more lives than heroin and cocaine combined.
"Prescription drug abuse is now the fastest-growing drug problem in America, and the FDA needs to do more to combat this deadly public health epidemic. By better coordinating the efforts of local, state and national agencies -- and by reducing the supply of highly addictive opioid painkillers -- I am convinced that we can eventually save thousands of lives and spare millions of American families from the devastating heartache of addiction."