Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press
FILE - Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, returns after a break in the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh at the Senate Judiciary Committee, Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. Prescription painkillers would include a warning label that opioids may cause dependence, addiction or overdose under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

SALT LAKE CITY — Prescription painkillers would include a warning label that opioids may cause dependence, addiction or overdose under a bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday.

Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and Edward Markey, D-Mass., are sponsoring the legislation that would make those additions to the warnings already required on opioid drug labels.

"These warnings will be a simple but important part of our broader response to the nation’s opioid crisis, spurring much-needed dialogue between doctors and patients about the potential harms of prescription opioids," Hatch said in a statement.

More than 40 percent of opioid deaths in the U.S. in 2016 are linked to prescription drugs, according to the senators. About half the cases of opioid dependence begin with prescription painkillers.

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The bill, titled Lessening Addiction By Enhancing Labeling, would require the Food and Drug Administration to issue regulations providing for a warning label to be affixed directly to the opioid prescription bottle that a pharmacist hands to a patient.

The label would directly inform patients of the potential risks of the drugs and help spur conversations between patients and their providers about appropriate use and disposal of opioids, the senators said.

Utah, Arizona and Hawaii have passed state laws requiring labeling of prescription opioids, and legislation has been introduced in New Jersey and New York. Canada has issued regulations to require opioid labeling nationally.