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Originally published: 2014-01-02 09:18:09
Last modified: 2014-01-02 09:18:55

Our View: Not all prescription pain pills are equal but they should be

How's this for a communitywide new year's resolution: No more fatal drug overdoses in Watauga County and across the state of North Carolina.

Each year in North Carolina, about 1,000 people die from overdoses of prescription drugs. In the U.S., such overdoses are the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury. Indeed, prescription pain medications are the cause of more deaths annually than heroin and cocaine combined.

Now, building on the success of North Carolina's Operation Medicine Cabinet -- that voluntary medicine turn-in program recovered almost 200,000 pills in the High Country during its spring 2013 event -- N.C. Attorney General Roy Copper is joining other attorneys general from dozens of states in promoting a common sense approach to rules regulating generic prescription pain relievers.

Brand name opioid drugs are now required by the USFDA to use abuse-deterrent formulas -- pills that are resistant to crushing, for example, that could be used for illegal drug activities such as snorting or dissolving for injection.

Generic forms of the same drugs, however, have no such requirement -- a clear fumble on the part of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policy.

Cooper and others are now pushing for "good for the goose, good for the gander" regulations concerning tamper-proof formulas for pain relievers.

That push makes sense -- for the High Country and all of North Carolina.