As of September 2013, the United States Food and Drug Administration is implementing a mandate for all long-term, extended-release narcotic painkillers to include reworked warning labels. The FDA is putting these measures in place to heighten appropriate, safe use of narcotic painkillers.

The FDA is very concerned about the fact that inappropriate opioid use has reached staggering numbers in the United States. While the majority of this use is illegal, taking prescribed doses can still result in overdose, addiction, and even death. The new labeling is intended to make it clear that abuse, addiction, and misuse as well as overdose and death are all potential risks for people even when they take the medications at the prescribed doses.

There is a warning that confines the use of these painkillers to people who require daily, long-term pain care who have not responded to non-narcotic drugs. Another warning makes pregnant women aware of the effect of narcotic withdrawal syndrome for newborn babies. It is important to keep in mind that the warnings will continue to stress that benefits of the drugs outweigh the risks.

In 2010, there were about 16,600 people who died due to misuse and abuse of opioid drugs. During the past decade, there has been an increase exceeding 300 percent. For each of these deaths, there are another 32 emergency department visits and 10 treatment admissions that occur due to misuse or abuse as well as 825 non-medical drug users.

Common medications that fall into this class of drugs include oxycontin, palladone, opana ER, MS contin, and embeda, all of which contain narcotics, such as morphine or oxycodine. The FDA is working to achieve a balance between making these painkillers readily available to patients who have legitimate needs for them and decreasing the amount of abuse and misuse that takes place.