By: Hector Garcia
July 20, 2012
In order to combat the prescription drug abuse crisis in southern West Virginia, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.) recently met with the head of the Food and Drug Administration to push legislation to require new safeguards to make it more difficult to abuse painkillers.
“We have the science and manufacturing capabilities to help stop turning the Godsend of prescription painkillers into an addict’s Devil’s brew,” Rahall, who cosponsored the legislation known as the STOPP (Stop the Tampering of Prescription Pills) Act, said. “Pharmaceutical manufacturers should embrace this federal measure because in the end it will not only save lives it will work to aid their corporate bottom lines.
Rahall, and his fellow members of the Congressional Prescription Drug Caucus, were briefed by FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg on FDA’s actions on prescription drug abuse prevention, including the recently released Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which requires drug manufacturers to make FDA-approved patient education materials available to consumers on safe use and disposal of prescription drugs, and provide education and training programs to prescribers.
“The less exposed the general population is to potential addictive prescription drugs, the better the makers should fair in the justice system,” Rahall said. “I know there is no one answer, no single action, and no ‘silver bullet’ in this fight. We must bring all stakeholders to the table, including drug makers, who must do their part to ensure their products are used properly and safely.”
The STOPP Act would make abusing prescription painkillers more difficult by requiring brand name and generic painkillers to have tamper-resistant formulations, in order to prevent the commonly known methods of crushing, chewing or heating of both immediate and extended-release narcotics that can risk dangerous overdoses.
Under the bill, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services would be required to set deadlines with which brand-name and generic drug manufacturers would have to comply, or risk having their drug discontinued from marketing due to safety reasons.
“The toll of destruction and devastation heaped upon America’s families and our economy by this epidemic demands the Congress must act, and act swiftly,” Rahall said. “Fighting back against prescription drug abuse will take the efforts of an entire village with determination and persistence and the coordination of federal, state, and local resources and networks.”