WASHINGTON — Efforts to impose stricter controls on prescription drugs that are subject to rampant abuse have apparently failed after a groundswell of lobbying by pharmacists and drugstores, members of Congress said on Monday…
The Senate approved the new restrictions last month as part of a bill reauthorizing user fees for the Food and Drug Administration. The House version of the legislation does not address the issue. House and Senate negotiators announced Monday night that they had reached a bipartisan agreement on the overall bill, and said they hoped Congress would approve it by the end of the month.
Abuse of prescription medications has risen sharply in the last decade, with hydrocodone products among those most often misused, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A recent report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, “Overdoses involving prescription painkillers are at epidemic levels and now kill more Americans than heroin and cocaine combined,” adding, “The death toll from overdoses of prescription painkillers has more than tripled in the past decade.”
Senator Joe Manchin III, a West Virginia Democrat who led the push for new controls, said it appeared that his proposal was falling victim to the financial interests of drugstores and related businesses.
Instead, he said, patients might benefit from closer monitoring, as they would have to visit their doctors every three months, rather than every six months.
Dr. Kolodny said he had treated many patients who became addicted to hydrocodone products in their late teens and early 20s and were now taking 20 to 30 tablets a day.