New medicines, including one that could help curb COVID-19 and a generic version of a painkiller, will make prescription painkillers cheaper and easier to use by 2020.
The National Institutes of Health said Tuesday that it’s collaborating with other organizations to identify more generic alternatives to the opioids, which have been widely prescribed in hospitals and clinics across the country, but have not been available in pharmacies or doctors’ offices.
The opioid painkiller oxycodone has been the mainstay of prescription drug use in the United States.
It’s also the most commonly prescribed drug among Americans over the age of 65, accounting for more than half of all prescriptions for the opioid painkillers.
But it’s not clear whether that would be enough to help curb the coronavirus outbreak.
Doctors prescribe the painkillers for their pain, but the drugs are also commonly used in emergency room visits and for treating other conditions, including cancer, AIDS and heart attacks.
The NIH’s new opioid strategy is part of a wider effort to reduce drug costs and encourage the development of generic drugs.
Its goal is to create a national market for generic medicines by 2021.
The U.S. currently imports about 60% of the opioids in the world, and in the past two years the number of generic versions of opioids in pharmacies has risen by roughly 80%, according to the drug industry.
The new strategy is intended to help make those imports more competitive and reduce prices, said Julie DeYoung, deputy director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
“In an era when we’re increasingly reliant on generic drugs to manage our health care needs, this is really a game changer for the U.K. and the U: we need to make sure we’re providing our patients with affordable options,” DeYoung said.
The new strategy will be part of the NIAID’s National Drug Strategy, which the agency unveiled last month, which will aim to improve access to prescription drugs and help the global pharmaceutical industry become more efficient.
The strategy will include efforts to improve the supply chain for generic versions, and to develop new drug discovery tools.
The strategy also includes efforts to address the shortages in generic versions.
The agency announced last month that it would be investing $30 million to expand the availability of generic alternatives and create a network of partners in the U, including health care organizations.
In the U., generic versions are more widely available, and they can be bought by most Americans, DeYoung added.
But some people can’t afford to pay full price for a generic, and the pharmaceutical industry has struggled to make that cheaper than the brand name.
The drug industry has made efforts to lower prices, including by developing its own generics and introducing generic versions to some of the more expensive drugs, but that has not been enough to solve the problem, said Elizabeth Schulz, senior vice president at the American Chemistry Council.
She added that a generic opioid might help address some of those shortages, but it would still need to be developed and tested by a third party before being used in the market.