According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 25,000 people died from a prescription opioid overdose in 2014. Since 2007, our country has seen more than 15,000 prescription opioid overdose deaths each year. For many, pain medications that doctors prescribe after injuries or surgery become gateway drugs to addiction. They believe that prescription drugs are safer and less addictive than street drugs. But that simply isn’t true.
Over the past decade opioid addiction and overdose has reached epidemic levels and steps are finally being taken to do something about it. The Food and Drug Administration will now require pharmaceutical companies to place black box warning labels on immediate-release opioid prescription medication. These labels will be added to 200 opioid painkillers, including OxyContin and Vicodin. The labeling on these drugs must provide detailed information regarding patient monitoring and drug administration, including warnings against stopping treatment abruptly in physically dependent patients. These new labels are one of the many steps the FDA plans to take this year in an attempt to reverse the country’s opioid epidemic.