N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper called for safer generic drugs in a letter to the Food and Drug Administration.
In cooperation with 47 other attorney generals across the country, Cooper is calling on FDA officials to make the generic equivalents to drugs like OxyContin harder to abuse or tamper with.
Cooper wrote the FDA Monday to encourage combat of the rise in prescription drug abuse. The FDA was asked to place restrictions on the way generic pain pills are made in order to prevent their being crushed to allow injection or snorting. Name-brand versions such as OxyCotin have already implemented these improved designs. Cooper said he is worried that as the patent expires later in 2013 off-brand versions of the drug and other equally dangerous prescription pain killers will flood the market with cheaper, more easily crushed versions.
Cooper and Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange led the effort to urge other state attorney generals to write in.
“In our states, non-medical users are shifting away from the new tamper-resistant formulations to non-tamper-resistant formulations of other opioids as well as to illegal drugs. There is great concern in our law enforcement community that many non-tamper-resistant products are available for abuse when only a few products have been formulated with tamper-resistant features,” Cooper and the other attorneys general wrote.
According to a press release from Cooper’s office, there were approximately 1,000 deaths from prescription drug overdoses in North Carolina for 2012. According to the Centers for Disease Control fatal drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death due to unintentional injury in the U.S., higher than motor vehicle deaths. Cooper said that law enforcement is concerned that overdose deaths could rise higher if generic drug companies do not adapt.