Congress makes fervent push for abuse-deterrent painkillers

Congress is once again tackling prescription painkiller abuse, zeroing in on how to prod the federal government to approve more drugs with features that deter abuse.

But such technology isn't a silver bullet for this growing problem, according to doctors.

Painkiller overdoses kill 44 people a day in America, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Overdose deaths started to take off in the nineties but dropped in 2012 and essentially leveled off.

With painkiller overdoses still a problem, lawmakers believe abuse-deterrent technology can be a potential problem solver. However, there are very few painkillers available that have such features, with one being the popular painkiller Oxycontin.

The most common abuse-deterrent technology prevents a pill from being snorted, usually by having it turn into a gel after it is crushed. The technology also prevents an abuser from chewing the pill to get a high more quickly.

The FDA finalized a draft regulatory guidance from 2013 on how drug makers can adopt abuse-deterrent technology. If it hadn't done so by June the agency would have lost $20 million in funding from Congress, a threat that the agency apparently took seriously.

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