Opioid addiction warnings to be strengthened in UK
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has announced that opioid medications in the UK will now have better warning labels about the risk of addiction and dependence. The labels will make it clear that the medicine is an opioid, which can cause addiction, and that there can be withdrawal symptoms if people stop taking it suddenly.
Opioids are known to have a serious risk of dependence and addiction. America has seen a massive opioid crisis in recent years, with these medications being the cause of 46,802 overdose deaths in 2018 according to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A 2019 report from West Sussex NHS Trust highlighted that the UK is now heading toward a USA-style crisis, with five people dying every day from opioid overdoses.
Mitigating opioid addiction
Following concerns raised about the prescribing rates of opioids in the UK, the Opioid Expert Working Group (EWG) of the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) developed a set of recommendations to improve information for prescribers and patients and to protect public health. These recommendations were fully supported by CHM and formed the basis of the MHRA's new warnings.