North Carolina Department of Justice
North Carolina Department of Justice
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Adopt guidelines for safer opioid prescription, AG Cooper urges FDA

Release date: 1/15/2016

State AGs ask FDA to follow new CDC guidelines to prevent prescription drug misuse and abuse

Raleigh: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration should address the rise in opioid abuse by adopting new guidelines proposed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Attorney General Roy Cooper said Thursday.

Yesterday, Cooper joined 35 additional state and territory attorneys general in a letter calling on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to begin following the Centers for Disease Control’s Proposed 2016 Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. The guidelines seek to reduce risks of drug abuse associated with chronic pain treatment by improving the way drugs such as Codeine, hydrocodone and oxycodone are prescribed.

“Opioid misuse and abuse affects thousands of lives each year in North Carolina and across the country,” Cooper said. “Safer, stricter guidelines for prescribing painkillers can help save lives.”

According to a 2013 report from the N.C. Division of Public Health, more than 1,000 people in North Carolina die from prescription drug overdoses each year. A report from the National Institute on Drug Abuse recently indicated that prescription opioid misuse and abuse is also a growing problem nationwide. In 2014, there were more than 18,893 opioid overdose deaths in the U.S., a 369 percent increase since 1999. Deaths from prescription painkiller overdoses even outnumbered deaths from illicit drug use, including both cocaine and heroin overdoses combined.

In the letter to the FDA, the attorneys general explained that clear, practical guidelines can help medical professionals avoid overprescribing powerful, potentially habit-forming opioid drugs. The attorneys general also wrote that considering lower doses or alternative treatment methods should be considered before deciding to prescribe opioids.

“By better informing and guiding prescribers, these Guidelines will not only provide a strong framework for providers, but they will also improve the access to opioid for patients for whom they are the best choice,” the attorneys general wrote in the letter.

Cooper has led efforts to address prescription drug abuse and misuse of both name brand and generic painkillers and helps to promote Operation Medicine Drop and other ways for people to dispose of unused prescription medication safely. Under Cooper’s leadership, the NC Department of Justice has also worked with education, law enforcement, and public health professionals to develop a training course for North Carolina teachers called Preventing Substance Abuse and Underage Drinking among K12 Students. 

Each spring, Cooper’s office sponsors the Stop Rx Abuse  video contest to educate North Carolina middle and high school students about the dangers of prescription drug abuse. Any North Carolina student enrolled in grades 6 through 12 can participate by creating a 30-second public service announcement video on teen prescription drug abuse and entering it for a chance to win prizes. This year’s contest will accept completed applications and video entries from March 1 through April 18, 2016. For more information or to enter this year’s Stop Rx Abuse PSA contest, visit

Contact:  Noelle Talley
Phone:     919/716-6413