WASHINGTON (AP) - The nation's top health officials are stepping up calls to require doctors to log in to pill-tracking databases before prescribing painkillers and other high-risk drugs.
The move is part of a multi-pronged strategy by the Obama administration to tame an epidemic of abuse and death tied to opioid painkillers like Vicodin and OxyContin.
The same information can be used to prevent deadly drug interactions between opioids and other common medications, including anti-anxiety drugs like Valium of Xanax. But physician groups see such a requirement as being overly burdensome.
Opioids are highly addictive drugs that include both prescription painkillers like codeine and morphine, as well as illegal narcotics, like heroin. The CDC says deaths linked to opioid misuse and abuse have increased fourfold since 1999.
Helping push the administration's effort forward is an unusual, multi-million dollar lobbying campaign funded by a former corporate executive who has turned his attention to fighting addiction.
Gary Mendell, CEO of the non-profit Shatterproof, founded the group in 2011, after his son committed suicide following years of addiction to painkillers. Previously Mendell was CEO of HEI Hotels and Resorts.
(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)