Everyone in and around the medical field has been aware of the growing problem we face related to the use and abuse of prescription drugs for quite some time. This is specifically a problem for long-acting narcotic pain killers because of how easy it is to move from “using” them to “abusing” them.
The number of deaths that have been attributed to the abuse of these narcotic prescription drugs has become an epidemic.
Most people believe that additional training should be made available to any doctors who wanted to prescribe the type of narcotic painkillers that are susceptible to addictions. However, the disagreement comes as to whether that training should be made mandatory or whether doctors should have the choice of whether or not to attend.
The FDA made an original proposal regarding this training. They believed that this training should be made optional.
However, a highly qualified medical panel was assembled to review this recommendation from the FDA as well as the overall issue of prescription drug abuse. They determined that the best way to ensure patients were receiving appropriate treatment was to make this type of training a requirement for any doctor who prescribes these drugs.
However, regardless of the recommendation of the respected panel, the FDA rejected their recommendation and said the training should not be mandatory.
Groups like the American Medical Association, and other groups that represent doctors have fought against this type of mandatory training. Their concern is that the additional burden of this type of training would end up with a negative impact on the patients.
They believe that if doctors are required to take additional training in order to prescribe these drugs, they just won’t prescribe them, even if it is in the best interest of the patient. They also believe this will limit the number of doctors who are willing to treat patients with long-term pain problems.
After rejecting the mandatory nature of the proposal from the medical panel, the FDA unveiled their own program.
The companies who make these types of drugs will be required to underwrite the development of this program to provide additional (but voluntary) education to the doctors. However, these companies will not be involved in the content of the programs because it would be a severe conflict of interest.
The courses will be created by outside groups who have a specialty in developing material aimed at training doctors. The training sessions are expected to last for 2-3 hours. The course would also include handouts for the doctors as a reminder of the benefits and risks of using these types of prescription drugs.
The hope from the FDA is that more than 60% of the doctors who write prescriptions for these types of drugs will make the decision to take the additional course within the first several years of its existence.
The FDA sees this as a very positive step toward addressing the problem of the abuse of prescription drugs. Let’s hope they’re right.