Epidemic: Responding to America’s Prescription Drug Abuse Crisis provides a national framework for reducing
prescription drug diversion and abuse by supporting the expansion of state-based prescription drug monitoring
programs, recommending more convenient and environmentally responsible disposal methods to remove
unused medications from the home, supporting education for patients and healthcare providers, and reducing
the prevalence of pill mills and doctor shopping through enforcement efforts. The plan is the culmination of six
months of collaboration across the Federal government, with agencies including the Departments of Justice,
Health and Human Services, Veterans Affairs, the Department of Defense, and others.
In support of the action plan, the FDA announced that it is requiring an Opioids Risk Evaluation and Mitigation
Strategy (REMS). The new program will require manufacturers of long-acting and extended-release opioids to
provide educational programs to prescribers of these medications, as well as materials prescribers can use
when counseling patients about the risks and benefits of opioid use. The Food and Drug Administration
Amendments Act of 2007 gave FDA the authority to require manufacturers to develop and implement a REMS to
ensure the benefits of a drug or biological product outweigh its risks.
Prescription drug abuse is our Nation’s fastest-growing drug problem. The number of people who have
unintentionally overdosed on prescription drugs now exceeds the number who overdosed during the crack
cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s and the black tar heroin epidemic of the 1970’s combined. In 2007,
approximately 27,000 people died from unintentional drug overdoses, driven mostly by prescription drugs.
Additionally, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the number of
Americans in 2009 aged 12 and older currently abusing pain relievers has increased by 20 percent since 2002.
Further, visits by individuals to hospital emergency rooms involving the misuse or abuse of pharmaceutical
drugs have doubled over the past five years.
Relevant NCPIE Consumer and Healthcare Provider Educational Materials - Maximizing Your Role as a Teen
Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse @ http://talkaboutrx.org/maximizing_role.jsp