NSC Calls on DEA to Require Education for Opioid Painkiller Prescribers

Highly addictive medicines are overprescribed, and the council urged DEA to require more education for the medical practitioners who prescribe them.

The National Safety Council is calling on the Drug Enforcement Administration to require education and additional training for medical practitioners who prescribe opioid painkillers. The council urged DEA to make education and training a part of an initial and subsequent registration under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 according to a news release.

"The most fatally abused drug today is legal and sitting in our medicine cabinets," said Deborah A.P. Hersman, president and CEO of the National Safety Council. "DEA has been on the front lines of the fight to end this epidemic, and we applaud its efforts. We urge DEA to take another critical step by requiring prescriber education and training to prevent overprescribing and save lives."

NSC's news release said opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin, Percocet and Vicodin lead to more fatal drug overdoses than heroin and cocaine combined. The rise in fatal opioid painkiller overdoses has paralleled the increase in prescriptions, with more than 259 million prescriptions written in 2012. Yet the United States has not seen a decrease in the overall number of people reporting pain, and studies show these medicines are not always the best method for reducing acute pain, according to the council, which proposed that the mandatory education and training curricula include relative effectiveness and risks of opioid painkillers and responsible prescribing, including the use of tools such as state prescription drug monitoring programs and databases that track prescribing history. The council also proposes linking practitioners with treatment for those with addiction.

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