The FDA wants to take a closer look at whether opioids are effective for treating chronic pain, and it's enlisting drug companies to find the answer.
According to the Washington Post, the agency will at some point start requiring drugmakers to research all opioid painkillers that are utilized outside of a health care setting.
To be clear, there've been multiple studies on the effects the drugs may have on chronic pain. But FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb says the new research requirement would be more controlled in the hopes of producing a fresh analysis.
The research results could prompt opioid labeling changes or different prescribing rules, Gottlieb told the media outlet.
A 2018 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that opioid benefits for chronic pain may decrease over time, and come with a higher risk of side effects.
The CDC estimates that in 2016, roughly 50 million U.S. adults suffered from chronic pain. It's also issued guidance for doctors on how to prescribe the drugs more responsibly to those patients.
The new mandate is part of the FDA's plan to help reverse the decades-long opioid epidemic in America. It's not clear exactly when the requirement will be imposed.
Additional reporting from Newsy affiliate CNN.