The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is officially requiring makers of popular anti-anxiety brands to label the medications as possibly being extremely addictive.
Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” are a class of highly addictive psychoactive drugs, and include well-known ones like Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Librium, and Valium. Many of these drugs are used to treat a variety of mental, emotional, and physical disorders like anxiety, insomnia, seizures, social phobia, and panic disorder. While they have been used for decades, the drugs have been linked to addiction, physical dependence, and withdrawal amongst the people who use them. And now, the FDA wants to make sure those possible side effects are listed on the drugs’ labels, ABC News reports.
Medical officials say evidence is growing that suggests benzodiazepines are highly addictive and can be abused. “If monitored carefully, they have a great effect and can be very helpful to many patients who take them as prescribed,” said Dr. Bechoy Abdelmalak, a psychiatrist who works in a chemical dependency clinic. Bechoy says benzodiazepines have been a major issue for several years and said they are easily accessible on the black market, ABC News reports.
“Benzodiazepines will not be the next big epidemic. They have been a ‘silent’ epidemic for decades, intensifying consequences from the current opioid epidemic,” says to Dr. Harshal Kirane, medical director of Wellbridge Addiction Treatment and Research. Even though the first benzodiazepine, Librium, was approved by the FDA in 1960, the association never issued a warning about the risk of becoming addicted to and abusing the drug.
FDA Commissioner Stephen M. Hahn said the association will be looking into a new policy that requires drugs to be labeled with all of its side effects. ”We are taking measures and requiring new labeling information to help healthcare professionals and patients better understand that while benzodiazepines have many treatment benefits, they also carry with them an increased risk of abuse, misuse, addiction, and dependence.”
The announcement of the new potential requirement comes after the FDA found that people in the U.S. are being prescribed benzodiazepines for longer than what they should be and are frequently abused or misused.