Health officials call on FDA to ban OxyContin and other high-dose opioid painkillers

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by Jim Orr

Heath experts are calling on the Food and Drug Administration to ban OxyContin and other high-dose opioid painkillers from the market because of the risk of potentially deadly side effects associated with these medications. A petition filed with the FDA from health officials and other advocates said that high-dose opioids pose an unreasonable risk of overdose, addiction, and other complications.

The petition to the FDA regarding high-dose opioids was filed by Dr. Jay Butler, head of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials and the public health division of the Alaska Department of Health & Social Services. Also involved with the petition were Deborah Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council; Dr. Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing; Dr. Charles McKay, president of the American College of Medical Toxicology; and Judy Rummler, the chair of Fed Up! Coalition to End the Opioid Epidemic.

According to the petition, patients who take a daily opioid dose of at least 90 morphine milligram equivalent (MME) are significantly more likely to suffer a fatal overdose. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that this is the maximum opioid dose that patients should receive. The experts who drafted the petition said that while patients who require this level of opioids can still take multiple doses, eliminating high-dose opioids from the market will prevent these excessive painkiller prescriptions from becoming the go-to treatment for doctors.

One of the medications cited in the petition as being too strong is OxyContin. The petition stated that patients who are prescribed two 80mg OxyContin pills per day are taking 240 MME – or more that two times the CDC’s 90 MME daily limit. The petition also cited oxycodone – the generic version of OxyContin – as another opioid medication that posed a risk when prescribed in high doses. Patients who received the usual four pills-per-day prescription for 30 mg oxycodone tablets are taking 180 MMR daily.

In addition to the dangers posed by OxyContin and generic oxycodone, the experts wrote in the petition that several other high-dose opioids exceed the CDC daily limit for these medications. The petition cited immediate and extended release versions of hydromorphone, morphine, and oxymorphone; extended release versions of hydrocodone and methadone; and immediate release versions of transmucosal fentanyl as exceeding the daily maximum for opioid medications.

A CDC review of high dose opioids found that although these medications increase the risk of overdose and other complications, there is no evidence that these medications are more helpful to patients. The CDC found that patients who use high-dose opioids are more likely to suffer an overdose, becoming addicted, be involved in a car accident, fall and break a bone, or suffer other complications.

Opioid Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you have lost a loved one to an overdose caused by opioid painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital that prescribed the medication, or the drug company that manufactured it. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal rights and guide you through the first steps of filing a case.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of patients who were injured by an opioid painkiller overdose. Our law firm has represented hundreds of patients who suffered overdoses caused by opioid painkiller prescriptions. Our firm has the training and experience to prosecute medical malpractice cases involving a wide array of opioid medications, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, and other drugs.

For more information about filing an opioid overdose lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.