Advocates want FDA's Hamburg out

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg is being asked to leave office. The Associated Press reports that addiction support activists, including Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, published a letter asking the White House to fire Hamburg. “We are especially frustrated by the FDA's continued approval of new, dangerous high-dose opioid analgesics that are fueling high rates of addiction and overdose deaths,” the letter states.

The regulator has taken continued heat for approving the painkiller Zohydro because its design did not include anti-abuse safeguards, as well as its refusal to pull its approval despite pleas by attorneys generals from several states, lawmakers and addiction advocates.

The clamor to control opioids and their access has gotten louder over the past few years as abuse rates have skyrocketed.  A June study found that opioid-related deaths have outpaced ones linked to heroin, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in July that the latest US prescribing data shows rates have been so high that they translated into around one bottle per US adult.

The AP notes that Wednesday's letter is “the first formal call for new leadership at the agency over the issue.”