For Immediate Release - March 11, 2013

AG Coakley Asks FDA to Make Generic Pain Pills Harder to Abuse

Joined by 47 Other AGs in Calling for More Tamper and Abuse Resistant Prescription Drugs

BOSTON - Generic versions of popular pain relievers must be made harder to abuse, Attorney General Martha Coakley and 47 other state and territorial attorneys general told federal officials in a letter sent today by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG).

The letter encourages the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to adopt standards requiring manufacturers and marketers of generic prescription painkillers to develop tamper- and abuse-resistant versions of their products. 

“It’s more important now than ever to push for tighter restrictions for these pain relievers that can be highly addictive and dangerous drugs,” AG Coakley said. “Tamper and abuse-resistant versions of these products will help fight the ongoing epidemic of prescription drug abuse.”

“Adding new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids to deter abuse could reduce misuse of these drugs and the sometimes deadly consequences. These products can be part of a comprehensive approach which should include prevention, interdiction, prosecution and substance-abuse treatment,” the letter states.

Prescription drug abuse is on the rise across the country, and prescription pain relievers are among the most commonly abused drugs. Name-brand versions of painkillers such as OxyContin have taken steps to make it more difficult to abuse their drugs by making it harder to crush pills which abusers do in order to inject or snort the drug. 

“In our states, nonmedical users are shifting away from the new tamper-resistant formulations to non-tamper-resistant formulations of other opioids as well as to illegal drugs. There is great concern in our law enforcement community that many non-tamper-resistant products are available for abuse when only a few products have been formulated with tamper-resistant features,” the attorneys general wrote in their letter to the FDA.

When abused or used incorrectly, prescription drugs can be deadly.  Fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the United States exceeding even motor vehicle deaths, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

Attorneys general from the following states and territories signed onto the letter: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper led the effort to get state attorneys general to write to the FDA about the problem.

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