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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Joins Other Attorneys General in Call for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to Make Generic Pain Pills Harder to Abuse


“Adding new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids to deter abuse could reduce misuse of these drugs and the sometimes deadly consequences,” the attorneys general say.


MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that he has joined 47 other state and territorial attorneys general in encouraging 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.  The letter sent today by the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) is available here.


“Through the National Prescription Drug ‘Take Back Day’ events, Wisconsin has become a national leader in collecting unwanted medications, but we need to do more to remove these potentially dangerous drugs as sources of abuse and misuse.  This request by me and other attorneys general attempts to do that,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.  “We’ve seen how prescription drug abuse can lead to the use of illegal drugs, such as heroin, which we also know is a significant – and deadly -- problem in Wisconsin.”


Prescription pain relievers are among the most commonly abused drugs.  The manufacturers of name-brand versions of painkillers, such as OxyContin, have taken steps to make it more difficult to abuse their drugs, for example by making it harder to crush pills, which abusers do 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 U.S., 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 coordinated this effort.  The NAAG news release is available here.