Balancing the Prevention of Opioid Abuse and Appropriate Pain Management

By: Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D.

Earlier today I had the opportunity to address the Rx Abuse Summit in Atlanta, Georgia, an important three day conference that brings together local, state and federal agencies, business, academia, clinicians, treatment providers, counselors, educators, state and national leaders, and advocates to share ideas and strategies for reducing the growing number of tragedies resulting from prescription drug abuse.

Margaret Hamburg, M.D.For FDA, stemming the rise in prescription opioid misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose is an issue of the highest priority. The issue is complicated by the need to balance it with another major public health priority: managing the pain that affects an estimated 100 million Americans.

This balance goes to the heart of FDA’s mission to protect and promote the public health — and to our role as drug regulators. FDA has a responsibility to demand the best science and data to uphold its high standards to ensure a proper benefit/risk profile for these drugs, and to foster discussion and research that leads to a better understanding of pain and pain drugs.

FDA shares the concerns about safe and appropriate use of all prescription opioid analgesics and the public health consequences associated with misuse and abuse of these drugs. I encourage you to read my remarks from today, in which I detail the many actions FDA has taken to address prescription opioid abuse, targeting key drivers of the problem.

Nothing can erase the tragedy that so many people have had to face as a result of the misuse, abuse and addiction of opioids. But progress to reduce and prevent our nation’s prescription drug crisis is attainable through a comprehensive and collaborative approach. For our part, FDA is committed to reducing abuse of opioids and ensuring appropriate access to pain medicines for patients in need.

Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D., is Commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration

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