FDA requiring stronger warnings on opioid painkillers

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) —  Buffalo is no stranger to the drug epidemic as it continues here at home and across the country. The Food and Drug Administration is now stepping in to combat this ongoing trend.

Some members of congress believe the FDA has been too lax, so the agency is requiring much stronger warnings on opioid painkillers.

“Having a stronger warning label on a prescription bottle will help inform the public that these medicines, although useful for the control of pain, carry with them some downsides and that’s the downside of overdose and death,” said Dr. Richard Blondell, MD, Professor of the Department of Family Medicine at the University at Buffalo.

The FDA is requiring makers of drugs to put a boxed warning label about the serious risks when abusing prescription painkillers. This comes after the CDC urged doctors to limit prescribing dangerous drugs as over-prescribing is driving opioid addiction.

“We’re not talking about limiting pain pills to people that need them, people who are dying of cancer, people who have had just major surgery, they need painkillers, but they don’t need the quantities of painkillers we’ve been giving,” said Dr. Blondell.

The FDA will require labeling changes for immediate relief opioids, pain severe enough to require opioid treatment that cannot be helped by alternative drugs, but some doctors say it’s still not enough.

“I think the FDA warnings is an important first step, but we have much more to do. One of the things that the FDA could do is to put warning labels on benzodiazepines as well,” said Dr. Blondell.

Benzodiazepines includes drugs like Xanax and Valium. Doctor Blondell says people are dying of drug overdoses because they have multiple things in their system at once.

“I think predominantly young people aren’t aware of all the risks and these are the people who will drink a lot of alcohol, take a Xanax with the result is, they never wake up,” said Dr. Blondell.

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