The New York Times is reporting that a group of approximately thirty-five doctors have signed a petition to the Food and Drug Administration, asking that more stringent regulations be placed on the prescription of pain-killers. The doctors’ impetus for the petition is to curb abuse of the drugs. In the petition, the physicians ask that the current requirement for these drugs be changed from “moderate to severe pain” to simply “severe pain.” The doctors also ask for changes regarding maximum daily dosages, and maximum duration of the prescriptions. They do stipulate that these changes should not be made with respect to prescriptions for cancer patients.
There are many impressive names and titles at the base of the petition, suggesting that, at the very least, some important members of the medical community feel that these suggestions are valid. Among the signers are the NYC Commissioners of the NYC and NY State Departments of Health, the acting president of the American Society of Addiction Medicine, and the Director of the Addiction Institute of New York, to name just a few.
As the Times article points out, potential changes such as this necessarily take a long time to implement, if they are ever implemented at all. A possible intended ancillary effect of the study could also be to “highlight the dangers posed by narcotic painkillers, or opioids, particularly when they are used at high dosages or over long periods of time.” As the petition was just sent, there is no reaction yet from the FDA.