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Opioid Epidemic on the Rise; Mandatory Training Needed for Doctors to Prescribe Opioids

WASHINGTON - Mandatory training for doctors who prescribe powerful opioid painkillers should be required by law as a condition of obtaining or renewing their narcotics license, Dr. Sidney Wolfe, founder and senior adviser of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, said in testimony today.

Wolfe testified before a joint meeting of two U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advisory committees. The two-day meeting, May 3-4, examines whether such mandatory training should be required before doctors are allowed to prescribe opioids.

Over the past 20 years, prescriptions for opioid painkillers have soared, leading to an epidemic of opioid addiction, rising heroin use and a record high rate of overdose deaths. According to the testimony, two-thirds of prescribed opioids in the world come from doctors in the United States.

“If opioids were no more dangerous than other drugs, why do they require a narcotics license to prescribe?” said Wolfe. “To help stop this opioid epidemic, mandatory training should be required before physicians can get their narcotics license.”

View Wolfe’s testimony.


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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.

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