FDA Increases Orders for Warning Labels on Dangerous Opiate Painkillers

At this point, it is fairly well-known that the United States is struggling with a heavy drug abuse problem. This has been an ongoing and increasing trend for over twenty years now, a problem that has resulted in twenty-four million Americans currently addicted to drugs and alcohol, and over two-hundred thousand dead from overdose problems.

Now that the United States is in the throes of a full-on addiction epidemic, the Food and Drug Administration finally sees the value in stepping in and increasing regulation on opioid pain reliever drugs, the number one killer in the U.S. drug problem. A little too little, a little too late comes to mind here. When it comes to addressing drug and alcohol addiction and really doing something about this problem, it is going to take a nationwide effort to reverse the trend. This effort by the FDA is a drop of water in an ocean of addiction. That would have been helpful in 1998. Now it is pretty unlikely that the FDA will be able to do much to reverse the issue.

A Request for More Warning Labels

The FDA released new orders to pharmaceutical companies to increase and extend warning labels on the drugs they were making. This was done in an effort to reduce the overdose death epidemic from opiate pharmaceuticals that claimed twenty-five thousand lives in 2014, thirty-thousand lives in 2015, and forty-thousand lives in 2016.

At the same time that the FDA released their orders for more stringent warnings on opioid pharmaceuticals, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released their own prescribing guidelines for doctors doling out opioid drugs. They did this in an effort to curb the overprescribing trends of the 21st century.

According to the CDC, doctors should not prescribe opioid painkiller except when absolutely necessary, and even when they do prescribe them, they should never prescribe them for more than one week. Yet twenty-five percent of doctors still prescribe opioid drugs for at least one month!

The CDC insists that the majority of pain patients would do just fine getting by on over the counter pain relievers. According to CDC research, the majority of pain patients seeking opiate pain relievers are patients suffering from back pain, jaw pain, toothaches, or headaches. In the vast majority of such cases, patients could be easily treated with over the counter ibuprofen or acetaminophen.

We Need More than Increased Regulations

In addressing the epidemic and recently labeled National Public Health Emergency that is the opiate addiction problem in the United States, we will need a lot more effort than just increased FDA regulation and CDC guidelines. In fact, resolving opiate addiction in the 21st century will take effort on an order of magnitude like nothing we have utilized yet. To fully empower people to stay away from opiate drugs or to get off of them once they are on them, we need a nationwide shift away from our viewpoint that opioid pharmaceuticals are a “solution” for anything.

We need to support non-addictive alternatives to pain relief. We need to explore and innovate holistic remedies and natural, alternative approaches to pain management. Such options exist, but they are strongly suppressed in the United States because they do not make billions of dollars every year for Big Pharma.

Looking to the future, we need to end Big Pharma’s profiteering off the backs of legalized addicts. This ends with us, and it has to end now. We need to demand a better, healthier approach to pain reduction in the United States.




After working in addiction treatment for several years, Ren now travels the country, studying drug trends and writing about addiction in our society. Ren is focused on using his skill as an author and counselor to promote recovery and effective solutions to the drug crisis. Connect with Ren on LinkedIn.