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Stronger warnings for painkillers

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration is requiring stronger warning labels on prescription painkillers like OxyContin, in the government’s latest attempt to reduce overdose deaths caused by the long-acting medications.

The changes revealed Tuesday are designed to remind doctors and patients about the fatal risks of misusing and abusing long-acting opioid pain relievers, which include forms of oxycodone, morphine, and other narcotic medications.

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The new label emphasizes that the drugs are only for patients with ‘‘around-the-clock’’ pain that cannot be treated with over-the-counter medications or immediate-release opioids.

The new label also includes a boxed warning about the risks of opioid withdrawal syndrome in infants who are exposed to the drugs during pregnancy, labor, and nursing. Symptoms may include rapid breathing, trembling and poor feeding habits.

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