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FDA Rejects Mandatory Training for Doctors That Prescribe Powerful Painkillers

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Recently, I wrote an article that was published in CoSozo Living magazine, a publication dedicated to health and wellbeing, on pill mills. Pill mills, or a facility that employs doctors or other health practitioners who rather easily give prescriptions for narcotic drugs to anyone entering their facility with a complaint of pain, are a natural outgrowth of the boom in prescription painkiller addiction.

Despite phenomenon like prescription painkiller addiction and pill mills, the Food and Drug Administration recently rejected mandatory training for doctors who prescribe powerful long-acting narcotic painkillers. The announcement came after years of deliberation by the agency to try to come up with a method of curbing prescription painkiller abuse. A panel in 2010 vehemently rejected another proposal for doctors to voluntarily go through the training, and instead suggested mandatory training for all doctors.

Groups such as the American Medical Association strongly oppose any mandatory training for doctors who prescribe painkillers, and argue that doing so would cut back the number of physicians available to treat patients that suffer from pain, as well as being burdensome to doctors. Nevertheless, the FDA Commissioner, Margaret Hamburg, announced on Monday that the agency is still hopeful that congress will pass mandatory training legislation soon to curb the problem of prescription painkiller abuse. In the meantime, the FDA has proposed a voluntary training program for doctors that include 2-3 hours of training and would be paid for by the companies that manufacture prescription painkillers, although those companies would have no say in what materials would be included in the training. Prescription drug companies would also be required to hand out brochures to patients explaining the risks of the drugs and instructions for emergency care. The FDA is hopeful that 60% of the 320,000 U.S. doctors who prescribe narcotic painkillers will undergo the training within three years of its implementation.