The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently proposed a 20% reduction for the manufacture of controlled substances for 2018.
This proposal focuses on a reduction of more commonly prescribed opioid painkillers nationwide. This includes painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, oxymorphone, hydromorphone, morphine, codeine, meperidine, and fentanyl.
Opioid medications come with a high risk of substance misuse and dependence. Over the years, we have seen an exponential growth in the number of patients experiencing opioid use disorders. Many come to treatment as a result of the legal, long-term use of opioid medications.
Opioid addiction continues to be a serious problem across the U.S, with drug overdoses accounting for 52,404 deaths in the United States in 2015 alone.
Approximately 15,000 of those deaths related to opioids involved a prescription opioid.
In 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued guidelines recommending a reduction in prescribing opioid medications. These guidelines focused heavily on prescriptions for chronic pain. DEA and its partners also increased efforts to educate the public about the dangers associated with opioids. Much like the CDC, they highlighted the importance of properly prescribing these medications.
The CDC’s guidelines will impact on the number of prescriptions that are written. Consequently, this will impact the rate of substance misuse.
In setting their upcoming quotas, the DEA must balance what is required for medical use against the excessive production of potentially harmful substances as they set their upcoming quotas. This includes being sensitive to the need for end-of-life and palliative care medications.
As changes in policy begin to address the opioid epidemic, there will be an increasing need to develop strategies that support a collaborative medical and psychological approach to the treatment of substance use disorders as well as chronic pain. In line with this, we hope that physicians, pharmacists, and patients recognize the inherent risks of these highly addictive medications, especially when prescribed for long-term use.