Generic versions of popular pain relievers must be made harder to abuse, in order to curb prescription drug abuse that is epidemic in many states, Attorney General Jack Conway and 47 other attorneys general said in a letter sent to federal officials Monday.
The National Association of Attorneys General letter encourages the Food and Drug Administration to adopt standards requiring manufacturers and marketers of generic prescription painkillers to develop tamper- and abuse-resistant versions of their products, because the attorneys general are concerned that non-medical users are shifting to non-tamper-resistant formulations of generic opioids.
“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that kills more than 1,000 Kentuckians each year,” Conway, who co-chairs NAAG’s Substance Committee, said in a news release. “The development of tamper-resistant and abuse-deterrent opioid drug products is a valuable aid to the law enforcement, legislative and public awareness initiatives many of us have implemented in our states to combat prescription drug abuse.”
Prescription drugs can be deadly when abused, and fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the United States and Kentucky, exceeding even motor vehicle deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Federal data show that U.S. drug overdose deaths totaled 38,329 in 2010, rising for the 11th straight year, and accidental deaths involving addictive prescription drugs overshadow deaths from illicit narcotics.
In Kentucky, the number of drug-overdose deaths in Kentucky rose a staggering 296 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the Kentucky Injury Prevention and Research Center. Kentucky is one of the most medicated states in the country, and has the sixth highest overdose rate. Last year, 220 million doses of the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone were dispensed in the state -- that’s 51 doses for every man, woman and child in the state, says the AG release.
The news release from Conway's office said he led the effort to reach out to the FDA, along with Attorneys General Luther Strange of Alabama, Pam Bondi of Florida and Roy Cooper of North Carolina. Click here to read the letter; for a news release, click here.