FDA commissioner establishes Opioid Policy Steering Committee

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U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb has established an Opioid Policy Steering Committee.

The steering committee, which Gottlieb announced Tuesday, will be composed of some of the agency's most senior career leaders. Its mission is to develop ways the agency can decrease the severity of the country's opioid crisis.

Members will begin by exploring three questions, Gottlieb said. They include whether mandatory education for healthcare professionals who have the capability to prescribe opioids is needed; whether extra risk management steps for opioid prescription need to be taken; and whether a change to the current FDA framework used to assess the risk of abuse and misuse during the drug review process is needed.

Gottlieb said the steering committee will also be assigned other questions. In addition, Gottlieb said he is asking for input from the public and other FDA employees.

This committee's establishment was inspired by the country's growing opioid crisis. Prescription opioid deaths have quadrupled since 1999. In 2015, there were 33,091 deaths involving opioids with more than 22,000 of those from prescription opioids.

“We need to consider both the individual and the societal consequences” of opioid use, Gottlieb said.