Teaming up (not ganging up) Against Opioid Abuse

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  • 08/18/2015

In the immortal words of Don Draper, “If you don't like what is being said, then change the conversation. And nowhere is that more true than in our national dialogue over opioid pain medications.

Senior leadership at the FDA has returned again and again to the role the agency must play in facilitating physician and patient education -- and not only through labeling language. Former FDA Commissioner Hamburg specifically mentioned CME and working to develop (with a broad constituency) validated tools for physicians to use in determining which patients may be more prone to slide into abuse so they can choose their therapeutic recommendations more precisely.

“It all comes back to provider education,” she said. Amen.

Education – the Hamburg Manifesto.

That’s not regulatory mission creep; it’s the appropriate application of the agency’s Safe Use of Drugs initiative. The way you make a drug “safer” is to ensure that it is used by the right patient in the proper manner.

In keeping with that philosophy, an important announcement from Purdue Pharma:

Purdue Pharma L.P. Launches

New Resource Aimed at Educating About Opioid Analgesics with Abuse-Deterrent Properties and Team Efforts to Deter Abuse of Prescription Medicines

 STAMFORD, Conn., August 17, 2015 – Purdue Pharma L.P. proudly introduces Team Against Opioid Abuse, a new website designed to help healthcare professionals and laypeople alike learn about different abuse-deterrent technologies and how they can help in the reduction of misuse and abuse of opioids. Combating misuse and intentional abuse of prescription pain relievers involves more than just the person holding the prescription pad. It is a team effort, including pharmacists, nurses, counselors, caregivers, patients, and payers, both public- and private-sector. Public health experts have stated that Opioids with Abuse-Deterrent Properties (OADP) are an essential component of a comprehensive, evidence-based strategy to reduce opioid abuse that requires coordinated and sustained efforts from the healthcare team along with multiple other players, such as manufacturers, policymakers, regulators, educators, and law enforcement.

“Education about the proper use of opioid analgesics is a top priority at Purdue Pharma. Everyone on the team should understand their role and responsibilities, so they can do their part in combating abuse of opioids, while ensuring their availability for appropriate purposes,” said J. David Haddox, DDS, MD, Vice President, Health Policy, Purdue Pharma L.P. “Opioids with Abuse-Deterrent Properties are one tool to help the team in their efforts in fighting drug abuse. We developed this website to inform everyone who influences how drugs are prescribed, taken, stored, and destroyed, when no longer needed.”

Opioid abuse is a critical problem in America and one that healthcare professionals, payers, law enforcement, policymakers and drug makers are all working to combat. The 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that, among persons age 12 or older in 2012 to 2013, approximately 68 percent of people who used prescription pain relievers for nonmedical purposes said they got the medicines from a friend or relative, for free, by purchase, or by theft.[1] In 2011, the White House identified prescription drug abuse and misuse as a major public health and public safety crisis.[2]

Using clear graphics and easy to understand language, the website features sections about why it’s critical to deter abuse and how all the members on the healthcare team can make a difference. It also outlines the 2015 Food & Drug Administration’s Guidance on Abuse-Deterrent Opioids — Evaluation and Labeling, which informs drug developers about FDA’s current thinking on what kinds of testing potentially abuse-deterrent opioids should undergo. Because FDA states that having information about an opioid’s abuse deterrence available for healthcare professionals and patients, the website also reviews how Section 9.2 of a drug product’s Full Prescribing Information is the key to identifying opioid formulations with FDA-approved abuse-deterrent properties.[3]

The Team Against Opioid Abuse website can be can be accessed at

 [1] Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings. NSDUH Series H-48, HHS Publication No. (SMA) 14-4863. Accessed August 8, 2015.

2 White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis. 2011. Accessed August 8, 2015.

3 Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER), US Department of Health and Human Services. Abuse-Deterrent Opioids — Evaluation and Labeling: Guidance for Industry. Accessed August 8, 2015.

 Well done Team Purdue.


Center for Medicine in the Public Interest is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization promoting innovative solutions that advance medical progress, reduce health disparities, extend life and make health care more affordable, preventive and patient-centered. CMPI also provides the public, policymakers and the media a reliable source of independent scientific analysis on issues ranging from personalized medicine, food and drug safety, health care reform and comparative effectiveness.

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