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FDA Changes Pain Medication Labeling




A recent article posted in on Medical News Today (MNT) indicates the FDA is trying to take steps to deter the rampant usage of long acting narcotics in the American populace.  This recent FDA action will change pain medication labeling in an effort to minimize some of the complications of using long acting opiates.


I’ve written on numerous occasions about the hazards of chronic narcotic usage over the years.  We know that many of the long acting opiates (SEE LIST) have significant side effects and unintended consequences.

Side Effects:

  • Slow thinking
  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Low blood pressure
  • Headaches
  • Urine retention

Long Term Effects:

My observations of the prescribing habits of colleagues suggests the usage of narcotic medications are often started too soon, continued too long, and worse are reflexively given for pain that does not justify such treatment.

I’m most concerned by long-term prescriptions with no corresponding workup to determine the exact cause of pain.  In addition, many doctors and patients bypass valuable treatment options and jump straight to narcotic therapy.

Americans take 80% of the world’s narcotic medications.  Hydrocodone (Lortab/Norco) is the most commonly used.  These medications contribute significantly to medical problems such as Poly-Pharmacy.  Elderly patients are most at risk for complications from poly-pharmacy and narcotic usage.

Sadly, the knowledge that chronic opiate usage leads to increased pain perception (Hyperanalgesia) escapes many doctor/patient discussions.

Understand, chronic opiate/narcotic pain management has a role.  The FDA’s recent action is in response less than responsible prescribing and usage patterns.

My hope is this action will raise awareness among patient’s and lead to meaningful discussions with their physicians.  By exploring alternative treatment options and focusing on solving problems, not simply treating symptoms, perhaps we can utilize chronic narcotic medications more responsibly.

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