The US Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that drugmaker Endo Pharmaceuticals must remove its powerful opioid painkiller Opana ER from the market. The agency says this the first time it has asked that an opioid pain medication be pulled due to "the public health consequences of abuse," reports CNN.

"We are facing an opioid epidemic -- a public health crisis -- and we must take all necessary steps to reduce the scope of opioid misuse and abuse," FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said. "We will continue to take regulatory steps when we see situations where an opioid product's risks outweigh its benefits, not only for its intended patient population but also in regard to its potential for misuse and abuse." Opana ER is about twice as powerful as OxyContin, another often abused opioid.

The United States in in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Opioid overdose killed more than 33,000 people in 2015, more than any year on record. Nearly half of all overdose deaths involve some kind of prescription drug.

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