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FDA Turns Attention to Children’s Medicine in Battle Against Opioids

By Dr. Abimbola Farinde via Multibriefs

The opioid epidemic in America is one that has clearly demonstrated its far-reaching impact regardless of the background of the individuals who find themselves abusing this class of drugs. Within recent months, the opioid crisis has reached the level of being recognized as "a national emergency" by President Donald Trump.

"It’s a national emergency," Trump said in August 2017. "We're going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis."

Individuals from all walks of life — from rural and suburban areas to the inner city — have succumbed to the negative effects of opioid abuse in one form or another, with the most serious outcomes of prolonged abuse being overdose or untimely death. There have been ongoing efforts on the part of government agencies to implement strategies that are specifically designed to curtail and/or prevent the misuse of opioids.

Some of the more notable interventions include the FDA removal of Opana ER from the U.S. market due to the high risk for abuse, or the DEA reducing the amount of a large majority of Schedule II opioid drugs that are produced in the United States by 25 percent or more. Another notable action was the Justice Department instituting fines for corporations that fail to report orders for controlled substances.

Most recently, the FDA announced that it will begin reviewing prescription opioid products that contain hydrocodone or codeine to treat children's coughs. While the majority of opioid abuse has been placed on adults and the resultant consequences, it is also important to determine possible implications that can occur with the use of opioid-containing medications in children.

"There's perhaps no more important mandate that we have at the FDA than safeguarding the health and safety of children," FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., said in a statement.

Both the advantages and possible risks of these opioid-containing products must be thoroughly evaluated to determine whether there is a need for the drug to be initiated. With the escalating crisis of opioid misuse in America, it is important that use in children also be evaluated to limit to only those cases where it is deemed necessary based on the duration and severity of the symptoms.

With steps being taken early on to monitor opioid use, there is the possibility that the abuse of opioids will start during childhood and transition into adulthood. While the opioid epidemic continues, the current strategies and approaches are seeking to tackle an issue that has permeated the lives of many Americans. Hopefully, there is the potential for change on the horizon.

Dr. Abimbola Farinde is a clinical pharmacist specialist in psychiatry and geriatrics who graduated from Texas Southern University. She has gained a wealth of knowledge and training with the completion of residency training programs and being in practice for more than five years. She is interested in sharing her knowledge with other professionals engaged in clinical practice in a variety of settings.

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