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F.D.A. to Restrict Prescriptions of Narcotics

According to federal drug officials, many doctors may lose their ability to prescribe 24 popular narcotics as part of a new effort to reduce the deaths and injuries that result from these medications inappropriate use.

A new control program will result in restrictions on the prescribing, dispensing and distribution of extended-release opioids like OxyContin, fentanyl patches, methadone tablets and some morphine tablets.

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These products are classified as Schedule II narcotics and already are restricted according to rules jointly administered by the Food and Drug Administration and the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Hundreds of patients die and thousands are injured every year in the United States because they were inappropriately prescribed drugs like OxyContin or Duragesic or they took the medicines when they should not have or in ways that made the drugs dangerous.

The blame for this is shared among doctors who prescribe poorly, patients who pay little attention to instructions or get access to the medicines inappropriately, and companies that have marketed their products illegally.

The F.D.A. has received reports of patients’ being prescribed such medicines to treat something as simple as a sprained ankle. In such patients, the medicines can be dangerous.

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