Painkillers in the United States have a long and storied history. From over-the-counter pain medications like aspirin, ibuprofen, and acetaminophen that are used for mild to moderate pain, to prescription-only medications such as the class of pain medications known as opioids (which include oxycodone, morphine, and methadone) that are used for moderate to severe pain, pain medications have been both a blessing and a scourge.
Pain medications not only help reduce the intensity of felt pain, but such medications also serve useful purposes in helping people to continue to function in their daily work and home activities when they would otherwise be restricted in their activities due to pain, and to heal quicker.
Pain medications come in various forms, such as pills, tablets, capsules, and liquids taken by mouth (orally) or by injection or intravenously (by a needle placed into a vein). Some pain medications can only be taken in one form or manner, and some are taken with food and some without. Some people can tolerate one type of pain medication but not another type. Some people may have allergic reactions to some types of pain medications or have certain medical conditions that favor certain pain medications over others. Most pain medications can be toxic or lethal if taken in the wrong dosage or otherwise misused or abused.
Because of the vastly different pain medications available, your doctor is in the best position to determine if you need pain medication and which pain medications you should take, when to take them, when not to take them, when to stop taking them, and under what conditions you should take them. As with any medication, you should contact and consult with your health care provider if you have any concerns or reactions to any of your medications.
Certain pain medications are subject to misuse or abuse more often than others. The opioid pain killers such as morphine, methadone, and oxycodone, as well as others, often come in extended-release and long-acting formulations and are more often misused than immediate-release medications because they contain more medicine. About 23 million prescriptions, or 10% of the opioid market in 2009, were for extended- and long-acting opioids. The significant problem of opioid misuse and abuse can readily be understood when you consider that opioid use accounted for approximately 50,000 emergency room visits in 2006. The FDA estimates that 33 million Americans ages 12 and older misused or abused opioids during 2007 (up from 29 million in 2002).
U.S. health officials are reacting to the problem of opioid misuse by releasing a new plan to address this important issue which is called Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS). REMS will help prescribing doctors by educating them and others on proper ways to prescribe opioids and how to spot intentional or unintended misuse of them. Manufacturers of the medications will be required to use a single central system to provide educational literature to doctors to help them educate their patients with regard to the proper use, storage, and disposal of opioids.
If you or a loved one have been prescribed a wrong or otherwise harmful medication that has caused you injuries or resulted in death, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney to investigate your claim. Please visit our website to be connected without cost to you to medical malpractice lawyers in your area to assist you or call us toll free at 800-295-3959.