Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer pushed the Food and Drug Administration to take immediate action on what he deemed “super pills,” or high-dose prescription opioids, at a news conference on Sunday.
Schumer urged the FDA to scrutinize the safety warnings and the distribution of the pills. His statement comes after six other states launched lawsuits this past week accusing Purdue Pharma, the company that manufactures OxyContin, of downplaying the risks of addiction in its marketing, as well as ignoring data that showed signs of drug abuse.
According to Schumer, “super pills” are those with dosages above a 90 morphine milligram equivalent. Instead of aiming specifically at one manufacturer, Schumer’s strategy is to tighten federal regulations on a variety of high-dose opioids.
“To know that there are super pills of OxyContin that dwarf the power of a standard, yet powerful, everyday Vicodin demands the FDA piece together a new plan to ensure that we are practicing the absolute highest level of safety with these roughly million prescriptions a month,” Schumer said.
The first step, he said, should be to enhance “safety measures and warnings for these high-dose drugs so people know the facts.” Then the FDA should partner with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention to create a study on the quantity of super pills going unused.
He also suggested the FDA team up with the Drug Enforcement Agency to increase drug take-back efforts, focusing on community education for prescription holders and doctors.
“Without immediate attention, super pills could very well put the opioid epidemic on steroids, so the feds must act,” Schumer said.