OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter has sent a letter to federal regulators asking for an update in its fight against opioid abuse, after Congress granted the agency expanded authorities in 2018.
The letter asks the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide a progress report by next month on what actions the agency has taken to combat the opioid epidemic and what actions are proposed for the future. The letter was signed by a bipartisan coalition of 48 attorneys general.
Among the expanded authorities, attorneys general seek clarification on provisions that include safer opioid packaging and disposal features, research and issuance of new regulations on non-addictive alternatives to opioids, and guidelines for opioid prescribing.
Attorney General Hunter said the FDA is a vital partner in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
“The additional powers granted to the FDA by Congress put the agency in a better position to help states fight the ongoing opioid epidemic,” Attorney General Hunter said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbating addiction and substance abuse across the nation, my attorneys general colleagues and I are requesting information on how officials are using their new authority now and how they plan to use it in the future. States and federal agencies must work together to simultaneously prioritize and stop both public health emergencies.”
In the letter, attorneys general point to data provided by ODMAP, an overdose detection mapping program used by law enforcement that demonstrates overdose rates recorded by first responders have been growing by double digits nationwide since the pandemic started.
“While COVID-19 deserves the attention it is receiving, the raging opioid epidemic must also be addressed,” the letter reads. “The loss and sense of despair brought by COVID-19 may even be refueling the opioid epidemic as people look to escape their fear and anxiety about the uncertain future that the virus has created.”
To read the letter, click here.
If individuals are struggling with mental health or addiction problems, resources can be found here: https://oklahoma.gov/odmhsas/covid-19-comprehensive-resource-guide.html.