Statement on FDA’s request for information on requiring fixed-quantity blister packaging for certain opioid pain medicines to help decrease unnecessary exposure to opioids
The opioid tragedy has become one of the defining public health crises of modern times. As the rates of opioid addiction and overdose continue to grow, addressing the opioid crisis has taken on more urgency. For the past few years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been focusing on decreasing unnecessary exposure to prescription opioids as a way to prevent new addiction; supporting the treatment of those with opioid use disorder; promoting the development of novel pain treatment therapies; increasing enforcement and carefully assessing the patient and public health benefits and risks of new opioid approvals.
In recent months, the agency has been implementing important new authorities that it sought and Congress provided in the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities – better known as the SUPPORT Act. The new law will help advance efforts to reduce unnecessary exposure to opioids and potentially lower the rate of new addiction. We know that for many people addicted to opioids, their first opioid exposure was a prescription opioid. We also know that patients are often prescribed significantly more opioid pills than they actually use following surgical procedures or other acute pain conditions for which opioids are prescribed. This excess supply of opioids provides opportunities for misuse, abuse, overdose and development of addiction, as well as the potential for these leftover pills to end up in the hands of a child, friend or relative for whom they aren’t intended.
The FDA’s efforts to address the opioid crisis must focus on encouraging “right size” prescribing of opioid pain medication as well as reducing the number of people unnecessarily exposed to opioids, while ensuring appropriate access to address the medical needs of patients experiencing pain severe enough to warrant treatment with opioids.
The SUPPORT Act allows the FDA to require special packaging for opioids and other drugs that pose a risk of abuse or overdose. Today, the FDA is opening a public docket to solicit feedback on potential use of this new authority to require that certain immediate-release opioid analgesics be made available in fixed-quantity, unit-of-use blister packaging.
For more information, please visit: FDA Statement.