About Our Prescription Opioids

This website serves as a resource to provide information in the United States about our U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved prescription opioid pain medicines and response to the opioid public health issue and related litigation. We recognize the opioid crisis is a tremendously complex public health issue and we have deep sympathy for everyone affected. We remain committed to ongoing efforts to collaboratively address this public health issue. Learn more about our public health response here and for more information about the litigation, click here.

What are prescription opioid pain medicines?

Prescription opioids are a class of FDA-approved medicines that are prescribed to relieve pain.1 The FDA has approved a range of prescription opioid medicines, and each of them has FDA-approved labeling describing its risks and benefits and specifying the pain conditions for which the medicine is approved. Typically, the medicines are used to manage pain when other treatments and medicines cannot be taken or are not able to provide enough pain relief.2

Why are prescription opioid medicines important to patients?

Pain is a uniquely personal experience and, left untreated, can have a significant impact on patients’ quality of life. These prescription medicines were developed to treat unmet pain relief needs that other treatments and medicines cannot provide. We and the global healthcare community agree on the importance of striking a balance between offering legitimate pain relief to those who need it and preventing abuse of these medications.3,4,5


  1. Opioid Overdose. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/index.html
  2. FDA identifies harm reported from sudden discontinuation of opioid pain medicines and requires label changes to guide prescribers on gradual, individualized tapering. FDA Drug Safety Communication. https://www.fda.gov/drugs/drug-safety-and-availability/fda-identifies-harm-reported-sudden-discontinuation-opioid-pain-medicines-and-requires-label-changes
  3. CDC Guideline for Prescribing Opioids for Chronic Pain. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/pdf/guidelines_at-a-glance-a.pdf
  4. IASP Statement on Opioids. International Association for the Study of Pain. https://www.iasp-pain.org/Advocacy/Content.aspx?ItemNumber=7194
  5. Gottlieb S, Woodcock J. Viewpoint: Marshaling FDA Benefit-Risk Expertise to Address the Current Opioid Abuse Epidemic. JAMA Network. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2643333