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Attorneys general ask FDA to study fight against opioids

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford on Monday joined a broad coalition of 48 attorneys general urging federal regulators to examine recent progress in their fight against opioid abuse.

The coalition specifically seeks a progress report regarding recent steps taken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to combat the opioid crisis, given the new authorities Congress granted the agency in 2018.

In their letter to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, the attorneys general explain how the requested information will help reduce prescription opioid abuse and accidental deaths.

“We have all witnessed the devastation that the opioid epidemic has wrought on states in terms of lives lost and the costs it has imposed on our health care system and the broader economy,” Ford said. “As the chief legal officers of our states, we are committed to combating this epidemic and protecting patients suffering from chronic pain or addiction, who are among the most vulnerable consumers in our society.

“I would like every Nevadan to know that my office is using every tool at its disposal to hold those responsible for the opioid crisis accountable, and we remain in ongoing litigation.”

The coalition’s letter seeks clarification of how the FDA is using and plans to use powers granted under the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act. Those provisions include safer opioid packaging and disposal features, research and issuance of new regulations on non-addictive alternatives to opioids and guidelines for opioid prescribing.

The attorneys general say they believe the FDA plays a critical role in ensuring both the safety and efficacy of opioids and encouraging non-addictive, non-opioid alternatives for treating pain.

In a surveillance by the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Analytics, data shows a decrease in the number of opioid-related overdose deaths. From 2010 to 2018, the rate per 100,000 of the opioid-related overdose deaths decreased 24% (16.22, down to 12.2) for Nevada residents.

In addition to Nevada, the coalition includes Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, U.S. Virgin Islands, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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