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FDA orders starker warnings on opioid painkillers

Boston.com / Associated Press, September 11, 2013

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration is requiring stronger warning labels on prescription painkillers like OxyContin, in the government's latest attempt to reduce overdose deaths caused by the long-acting medications. The changes announced Tuesday are designed to remind doctors and patients about the fatal risks of misusing and abusing long-acting opioid pain relievers, which include forms of oxycodone, morphine and other narcotic medications. Whereas the previous label recommended the medications for "moderate to severe pain," the new label describes a more limited role. It says the drugs should only be used for "pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock" treatment that cannot be managed with alternatives, such as over-the-counter medications or immediate-release opioids.