Two U.S. Senators introduced a piece of legislation Thursday which would prohibit the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) from allowing opioids to be labeled for intended use of “around-the clock, long-term opioid treatment.”

The FDA Opioid Labeling Accuracy Act, introduced by U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Mike Braun, R-Ind., would prohibit such labeling until a study can be completed on the long-term usage of opioids.

“In the United States, we consume 80 percent of the world’s opioid production and in 2017, one single year, over 70,000 people died due to drug overdoses," Manchin said in the release. "These statistics are unacceptable. As one of the hardest hit states, West Virginia has been on the front lines of the opioid epidemic, which is why I have introduced this bill today with Senator Braun to address how the FDA approves opioid prescriptions for treating different types of pain."

In 2001, the release said the FDA updated opioid labels to indicate use from “moderate to severe pain where use of an opioid painkiller is used for more than a few days” to “management of moderate to severe pain when opioids are needed for an extended period of time.”

With this change, opioids began to be prescribed as a first line of treatment for long-term chronic pain that surpassed the original intended use for cancer pain or short term post-surgical pain and definitively contributing to the heightening of the opioid epidemic.

The FDA Opioid Labeling Accuracy Act would prohibit opioids from being labeled for intended use to treat long-term chronic pain, except for cancer pain, end-of-life care or when a prescriber has determined that all non-opioid treatments are inadequate or inappropriate.  

— Email: wholdren@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @WendyHoldren