The Obama administration is set to propose a pain-free opioid policy in Congress next week that would eliminate the $100 billion-plus federal drug program for treating opioid-related deaths.
The White House said the new opioid policy, due this week, will be the most comprehensive effort in the history of the nation’s prescription drug program, which has been plagued by overdoses and overdoses caused by illegal prescription painkillers.
The drug policy would allow the administration to begin prescribing lower doses of opioids without getting caught in the opioid overdose crisis.
“This is going to be a significant shift,” said Anthony P. Brown, the deputy administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“I think we’re going to see a very substantial reduction in the use of opioid painkillers, both prescription and illicit.”
The drug control policy will also reduce opioid abuse, which is at an all-time high, Brown said.
The proposed opioid policy comes at a time when the Obama administration has been trying to shift focus away from a prescription-drug crisis and toward preventing overdose deaths, which the administration has attributed to the illegal distribution of painkillers to people without prescriptions.
Purdue Pharma, the makers of OxyContin, is the largest pharmaceutical company in the United States and the manufacturer of Percocet, Percobets and other painkillers that have become popular with patients suffering from opioid addiction.
It also has been hit with an investigation into how it marketed OxyContin.
The agency, however, said that it did not consider Purdue Pharma to be an opioid supplier, despite its repeated promises to Congress and to the public.
It said Purdue Pharma was not a co-conspirator in the abuse of Oxycontin and that it was not aware of any instances in which a Purdue Pharma employee used OxyContin without a prescription.
Instead, the opioid policy would focus on preventing opioid-induced deaths, said Kathleen Sgamma, deputy assistant secretary of the department of health and human services, in a statement.
It would also expand the opioid prescription-monitoring program.
The opioid crisis has been linked to the rise of heroin, fentanyl and other drugs that are often mixed with prescription opioids to make them more potent and more addictive.