Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States. More than 52,000 people died of drug overdoses in 2015.
Opioid addiction is driving this epidemic, with more than 20,000 overdose deaths related to prescription pain relievers and almost 13,000 overdose deaths related to heroin in 2015.
Now, for the first time, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has asked that a prescription opioid be pulled from the market because of concerns about abuse.
The agency's commissioner said the risks associated with the drug outweigh the benefits.
The FDA wants a powerful opioid painkiller — Opana ER — removed from the market.
The agency has asked Endo Pharmaceuticals to voluntarily pull the drug.
This is the first time the FDA has asked a company to remove a prescription opioid because of the public health risks of abuse.
An FDA market review prompted the decision. It showed that abusers have mostly been injecting Opana ER since it was reformulated in 2012 and that has led to several public health problems.
Opana ER was at the center of an HIV outbreak in Indiana in 2015.
Needle-sharing among users injecting the drug helped spread HIV to more than 140 people.
Opana ER said the U.S. is suffering an epidemic of opioid overdoses.
More than 33,000 people died after overdosing on opioids in 2015, more than any year on record.
Endo said in a statement that it is reviewing the FDA's request and will, "determine the appropriate path forward."
The FDA said it will withdraw approval for the drug if Endo doesn't pull Opana ER voluntarily.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration released new recommendations on opioids to police officers and paramedics just this week.
They're designed to help first responders care for victims of newer, stronger opioids and protect them from overdoses caused by accidental exposure.
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