US warns docs not to abruptly halt opioid pain treatment

Published: Apr. 9, 2019 at 6:05 PM EDT
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U.S. health officials are warning doctors not to abruptly stop prescribing opioid painkillers to patients who are taking them for chronic pain.

The Food and Drug Administration said Tuesday it will add new advice on how to taper the medications to all opioid painkiller labels, such as OxyContin, Vicodin and dozens of generic pills.

U.S. officials and states have been struggling to fight the opioid epidemic, which includes not only legal painkillers, but also illicit drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

The new FDA labeling will warn doctors that rapidly discontinuing opioids in patients who are dependent can cause withdrawal symptoms including uncontrolled pain, nausea, chills and anxiety. In the worst cases, these problems have been linked to suicide.