WASHINGTON  -- U.S. health officials are requiring drugmakers to train U.S. doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the safe use of powerful painkiller drugs that are blamed for thousands of fatal overdoses annually.

The long-awaited safety measures from the Food and Drug Administration are designed to reduce misuse and abuse of long-acting opioid pain relievers. The agency's plan focuses on educating doctors and patients about appropriate use of the drugs.

The FDA said drug companies that sell the drugs will be required to provide education to prescribers, either for free or for a small fee. The agency wants companies to train at least 60 percent of the 320,000 U.S. prescribers of the drugs within three years of launching the education programs. The requirement affects about a dozen prescription drugs.