Pain Treatment

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FDA Seeks to Tighten Control on Hydrocodone Painkillers Like Vicodin

(futurowoman/Flickr)

(futurowoman/Flickr)

By Rob Stein, NPR

The Food and Drug Administration Thursday announced that it wants the federal government to impose tough new restrictions on some of the most widely used prescription painkillers.

The FDA said it planned to recommend that Vicodin and other prescription painkillers containing the powerful opioid hydrocodone be reclassified from a “Schedule III” drug to a “Schedule II” drug, which would impose new restrictions on how they are prescribed and used.

OxyContin, another opioid painkiller, is already a Schedule II drug, defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration as “potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence”.

In a statement posted on its website, the agency said it was taking the step after becoming “increasingly concerned about the abuse and misuse of opioid products, which have sadly reached epidemic proportions in certain parts of the United States.” Continue reading

A Painful America

(Photo: Paul Bradbury)

(Photo: Paul Bradbury)

The numbers are staggering. One hundred and sixteen million Americans experience pain that can last from weeks to years. Costs of treatment and lost wages total between $560 and $635 billion each year. Yet treatment does not always relieve a patient’s suffering.

In a Perspective published today in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers outline how significant the problem of pain is in the U.S. and suggest approaches for more effective therapy. The piece recaps last year’s Institute of Medicine Report, Relieving Pain in America.

The writers say that undertreated acute and chronic pain is a “significant overlooked problem.” Dr. Phil Pizzo, Dean of Stanford’s Medical School, is co-author of today’s Perspective and led the IOM committee that reviewed the issue last year. In an interview, he described that both patients and doctors have differing approaches to pain and how to manage it. Some patients feel they need to tough it out. Others need someone to listen and work with them. Doctors may be either caring or judgmental about a patient’s pain. Continue reading