Now that prescription drug overdose has become the nation’s leading cause of accidental death, the Federal Drug Administration (F.D.A.) is working to educate physicians about preventing the abuse of prescription painkillers. The F.D.A. is requiring companies that manufacture long-acting painkillers to fund training programs for doctors and provide safety information for patients.
However, the impact of the change may be limited since the F.D.A. will not require doctors to participate in the classes. In 2010, a panel of experts overwhelmingly advised the F.D.A to make physician training mandatory, not voluntary—a move opposed by groups like the American Medical Association. When government officials announced the training program, they said Congress must act to make training mandatory. Dr. Margaret Hamburg, head of the FDA, said she expects half of the nation’s painkiller prescribers to get training by the program’s third year.