Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment by Congressman Stephen F. Lynch (D-MA) to the "Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 2005” (H.R. 2829).  Lynch's amendment would direct the Institute of Medicine at the National Academies of Science to conduct a study on the addiction rates of prescription drugs like OxyContin and other powerful painkillers. 

Congressman Lynch's amendment was approved by the House of Representatives by voice vote and with strong bipartisan support.

The study would focus on iatrogenic addiction, addiction which occurs as the result of doctor-prescribed medical care.  During a Field Hearing of the Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs in Boston, one of the primary concerns raised by the experts who testified was the lack of information on the addictiveness of drugs such as OxyContin.  

"For the first time, this study will give us a measurement of the addictive power of continuous and time-controlled painkillers like OxyContin,” said Congressman Lynch.

In his speech on the floor of the House of Representatives, Lynch stated that the goal of his amendment was to help doctors and patients better understand the risks associated with these drugs and prescribe and use them more safely and effectively. 

"Ultimately,” Lynch added, "the findings of this study could help us prevent more individuals from becoming hopelessly addicted through no fault of their own.”

According to the 2004 National Household Survey, 31.8 million Americans have used pain relievers for non-medical purposes at least once in their lifetime.  The abuse of prescription painkillers has risen steadily over the past five years; whereas the rates of abuse of illicit drugs have been generally stable over the same period. 


Congressman Lynch said, "Because there are legitimate medicinal uses for opioid painkillers, it is increasingly difficult to balance the desires of those patients who justifiably need these drugs and the massive problem of illicit use and abuse.  For this reason, it is necessary to have information on the addictiveness of drugs associated with iatrogenic addiction, including OxyContin.”

Congressman Lynch is the top Democrat on the Government Reform Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs, which held a September field hearing in Boston on the abuse of prescription painkillers like OxyContin.