Addiction makes many victims among Americans. This issue makes the Food and Drug Administration take a step in warning that non-opioid painkillers could be used abusively.
The FDA officials Douglas C. Throckmorton, Scott Gottlieb, and Janet Woodcock have published a letter on Wednesday in The New England Journal of Medicine. They warn that there will surely be a wave of drug abuse, this time with non-opioid painkillers:
“We must be aware that any decisive actions taken to reduce prescription opioid abuse and stem the tide of overdose and death can have unintended consequences, including prompting people to turn to alternative, potentially dangerous substances.”
In the US, in 2016, over 42,000 people died because of opioids, and 40% of the overdose deaths were cases that involved prescription opioids, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Opioids Abuse Falls, But Abuse of Their Substitutes Could Rise
The FDA officials said that the number of opioid abuse is now reducing, and doctors are encouraged to prescribe alternatives to opioids. People in pain are getting new therapeutics. But the abuse of prescription opioids could shift to abuse in opioid substitutes.
The agency explains which substances could be the next ones to start a wave of drug abuse. There are gabapentinoids, loperamide, benzodiazepines, and kratom.
Gabapentinoids are used in the treatment of seizures and neuropathic pain. Loperamide is an over-the-counter drug for treating diarrhea. Benzodiazepines treat anxiety and kratom is a plant-based drug known to be used as an opium substitute.
The FDA said that they got the latest trends in drug addiction by monitoring internet forums, social media, and any public messages to detect patterns worthy of concern. Opioid substitutes are safe to use when done properly. Misusing them is what the FDA is concerned about.
The authors of the letter concluded that:
“We will need to understand and be ready to respond to such challenges. The right approach to regulating these substances is best determined through a multifaceted system of pharmacovigilance, using various tools to mine traditional and new sources of epidemiologic data, assess products’ pharmacologic properties, and evaluate the social contexts in which substances are being used.”
Andre Blair s is the lead editor for Advocator.ca. He holds a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Toronto, and a Master of Science in Public Health (M.S.P.H.) from the School of Public Health, Department of Health Administration, at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Andre specializes in environmental health, but writes on a variety of issues.