Opioid overdose deaths

FDA fumbled opioid safety program

The FDA logo and sign outside of FDA headquarters.
Photo: Al Drago/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The FDA and opioid manufacturers failed to independently determine whether physician safety training and patient medication guides mitigated improper opioid prescriptions and misuse, according to new federal records obtained by researchers through the Freedom of Information Act.

Why it matters: Federal regulators created this safety program in 2012 because opioid addictions, overdoses and deaths were rising, but researchers say the FDA's program relied on poor designs and data collection — and ultimately did nothing to prevent the opioid crisis from getting worse.

More opioid companies facing criminal probes

Two medication bottles with white oxycodone pills spilled nearby on a table.
Oxycodone pills. Photo: Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images

Several opioid manufacturers and drug distributors are facing criminal investigations from the Department of Justice about whether they intentionally skirted federal law by not monitoring the flow of potent painkiller pills, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Why it matters: Purdue Pharma has already been ensnared in criminal probes, and now federal prosecutors are casting a wider net to determine the level of alleged wrongdoing that has resulted in tens of thousands of overdose deaths.