U.S. Representative Harold “Hal” Rogers is continuing his push to restrict access to highly addictive pain medicines in an effort to put an end to what’s considered an addiction epidemic in Kentucky.
Rogers (KY-05) has co-sponsored the “Stop Oxy Abuse Act of 2013,” which was introduced in the House of Representatives Thursday.
The bill revises the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classification to ensure that OxyContin is prescribed only for severe pain, rather than the current FDA guidance of “moderate to severe.”
“Far too many young people in my region have fallen victim to the abuse of prescription drugs and tragically lost their lives to addiction,” said Rogers, co-founder and co-chairman of the Congressional Caucus on Prescription Drug Abuse, in a statement from his office. “If we want to get serious about keeping these powerful narcotics out of the hands of our children and halting the lawlessness that comes with drug diversion, then we must ensure that these drugs are limited to only those who truly need it.”
Rogers is co-sponsoring the bill with Congressman Stephen Lynch.
OxyContin has become a commonly-prescribed drug for those suffering from pain, which heightens the potential for abuse and addiction of the powerful narcotic.
This bill follows Rogers’ recommendation in January to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) panel that highly-addictive painkillers such as hydrocodone be rescheduled to restrict its accessibility. Hydrocodone is in the opioid class of drugs, which includes morphine, heroin, codeine, methadone, and oxycodone, which is manufactured as OxyContin.
Hydrocodone combination drugs have become some of the most widely-prescribed in the U.S., which has led to a recommendation from a panel of drug safety specialists to subject hydrocodone drugs — like Vicodin and Lortab — to the same restrictions as other narcotic drugs like oxycodone and morphine.
In 2011, the Centers for Disease Control declared a worsening “epidemic” of overdose deaths associated with opioid painkillers, as these drugs were involved in 14,800 deaths that year. More recently, Source Safe Kids Worldwide released a report showing that a child is treated in the Emergency Room for medicine poisoning every eight minutes in the United States, and NIDA’s 2010 Monitoring the Future Study shows that two-thirds of students who misused prescription drugs obtained the medicines from friends or relatives.