AG Cooper calls for tougher prescription drug safety measures

December 19, 2013

RALEIGH — Manufacturers of generic prescription pain relievers should be required to develop versions that are harder to abuse, Attorney General Roy Cooper and 41 other state attorneys general told federal officials this week.

Requiring tamper-resistant formulas of pain relievers that are often abused will help prevent common methods of abuse, such as crushing pills to snort them or dissolving them to inject.

“Prescription drug abuse is a growing problem in North Carolina and many other states,” said Attorney General Cooper. “By making these drugs more difficult to abuse, we can potentially save lives.”

About 1,000 people died from overdoses on prescription drugs last year in North Carolina alone. In the U.S., fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury. Prescription pain medications cause more deaths than both heroin and cocaine combined.

In a letter sent today to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the attorneys general thanked the agency for its recent efforts to require abuse-deterrent formulations for brand-name opioid drugs. However, they urged the FDA to go even further by ensuring that the generic versions are also made more resistant to abuse.

“Ensuring that generic opioids, like their branded counterparts, have abuse-deterrent properties is a commonsense improvement that provides yet another important tool in the fight against our nation’s prescription drug epidemic,” the attorney generals wrote in their letter.

Cooper has previously led efforts to push for tamper-proof versions of both name brand and generic pain killers.

Nationwide, attorneys general remain at the forefront of the fight against prescription drug abuse by sponsoring prescription drug-take back efforts, spearheading legislative and law enforcement initiatives and educating the public.

Within Cooper’s N.C. Department of Justice, a specialized State Bureau of Investigation unit investigates prescription drug fraud rings, illegal diversion of prescription drugs by health care professionals and other prescription drug related crime.

In North Carolina, Cooper and the SBI also help to sponsor Operation Medicine Drop events to help people dispose of prescription medication safely. Since 2009, North Carolinians have disposed of approximately 52.8 million doses at these drug take back events, preventing those drugs from being abused or misused.

Additionally, each spring, Cooper helps sponsor the Stop Rx Abuse contest to educate North Carolina high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse.