FDA limiting anti-diarrhea medicine amid opioid abuse

In recent months, the government has declared an opioid crisis across the country. According to officials with the Food and Drug Administration, some people have been turning to anti-diarrhea medication to get high.

FDA officials said people have been taking Imodium A-D, also known as loperamide, to maintain their addictions or self-treat withdrawal symptoms. The drug can induce a high that is comparable to heroin, morphine or oxycodone, and it's a cheaper alternative. Consumers can buy 400 generic pills for just $10.

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While the recommended dose is 8 milligrams a day for over-the-counter use and 16 milligrams a day for prescription use, drug addicts are taking 50-300 capsules each day, according to a 2016 study published in the Annals of Emergency Medicine journal.

"We continue to receive reports of serious heart problems and deaths with much higher than the recommended doses of loperamide, primarily among people who are intentionally misusing or abusing the product, despite the addition of a warning to the medicine label and a previous communication," the FDA said in a safety announcement Jan. 30.

The issue has become so widespread that the FDA is asking manufacturers to change packaging in an effort to cut down on abuse. The agency wants brands to use the blister pack model, where the pills are individually wrapped. It also is suggesting that companies limit the number of doses per package.

The organization previously released drug safety information about loperamide in 2016.

“We are continuing to evaluate this safety issue and will update the public when more information is available,” the FDA said.

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