RELEASE: Commissioner Wen Issues Statement Commending FDA’s New Warning for Immediate-Release Opioid Painkillers

City of Baltimore Health Department seal


Baltimore City Health Department

1001 E. Fayette Street • Baltimore, Maryland 21202

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Mayor
Leana Wen, M.D., Commissioner of Health

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Sean Naron

Commissioner Wen Issues Statement Commending FDA’s New Warning for Immediate-Release Opioid Painkillers 

Dr. Wen calls on FDA to take additional action by issuing warnings for dangerous combination of medications

BALTIMORE, MD (March 22, 2016)– Baltimore City Health Commissioner Dr. Leana Wen today commended the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s FDA’S newly announced enhanced warnings for immediate-release opioid medications to help inform prescribers and patients of the risks related to opioid use and help combat the national  epidemic:

“Today’s announcement from the FDA is an important step that will help reduce the toll of addiction and fatal overdose in communities across the country. While we commend the FDA’ efforts to increase awareness about the serious risks of these medications through these new warnings, we know that there is another dangerous combination of medications that will need an even clearer warning to further stop the spread of this national epidemic.

We hope the agency will continue to take bold action by answering our call to require a black box warning for the co-prescribing opioids and benzodiazepines, a combination that causes 33 percent of unintentional prescription opioid overdose deaths.

Each day, 44 people in the United Sates die as a result of prescription opioid overdose. If we know there is more we can do to help educate physicians and save lives, then we cannot wait. The cost of inaction is far too high.

We thank the FDA for taking a stand by introducing these expanded warnings for opioids and hope they take the next steps necessary to truly address this public health emergency.”

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