FRANKFORT, Ky. – Generic versions of popular pain relievers must be made harder to abuse, Attorney General Jack Conway 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.
“Prescription drug abuse is an epidemic that kills more than 1,000 Kentuckians each year,” said General Conway, who co-chairs NAAG’s Substance Committee. “Adding new physical and chemical features to prescription opioids to deter abuse could reduce misuse of these drugs and save lives in communities across Kentucky and the nation.”
Attorney General Conway, along with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi and North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, led the effort to get state Attorneys General to write to the FDA about this important issue.
“The development of tamper-resistant and abuse-deterrent opioid drug products is a valuable aid to the law enforcement, legislative and public awareness initiatives many of us have implemented in our states to combat prescription drug abuse,” General Conway said.
In their letter to the FDA, the Attorneys General expressed concern that non-medical users are shifting away from the new tamper-resistant formulations to non-tamper-resistant formulations of other opioids, as well as other 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.
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.
Kentucky is one of the most medicated states in the country, and has the sixth highest overdose rate. Last year, 220 million doses of the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone were dispensed in the Commonwealth. That’s 51 doses for every man, woman and child in the state.