24/7 Confidential Hotline

Friday, October 26, 2018

Prescription Opioids of Tomorrow

prescription opioids
Tomorrow is National Prescription Drug Take Back Day; Saturday, October 27, 2018, 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, please click here to find a location near you. Safely disposing of all unused or unwanted medication can prevent diversion, misuse, abuse, addiction, and overdose. Any person who is holding on to prescription narcotics is invited to visit a collection site and help combat the addiction crisis we face today.

The majority of Americans understand that the addiction epidemic raging across America – stealing more than a hundred lives each day – is inextricably linked to prescription opioids. For many years, doctors doled out drugs for just about anything pain, from a sore back to palatial care. Prescription painkillers are effective for acute pain, but research indicates that few of the millions of Americans living with chronic pain benefit from drugs like OxyContin.

Research appearing in JAMA this year indicates that prescription opioid relievers demonstrated no advantages over non-opioid painkillers for treating common types of chronic pain. What’s more, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that patients with severe discomfort can benefit from alternative forms of pain management. However, such findings have done little to slow the rate of opioid prescribing, despite recommendations and guidelines from public health organizations.

Prescription Painkiller Controversy

Many years after it became apparent that the nation was in the midst of a prescription opioid epidemic, lawmakers and experts alike called for big pharma to make some changes. Companies like Purdue Pharma – the makers of OxyContin – were compelled to reformulate their drug to make it more tamper-resistant. Other companies were asked to do the same. Simultaneously, pharmaceutical companies were in the midst of developing stronger, more deadly narcotics.

Despite a public outcry over the years to rein in big pharma, the agency tasked with looking after public’s use of medication, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), almost always sides with and approves new drugs. Regardless of the glaring risks of supporting Zohydro® ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) – Vicodin sans Acetaminophen – the FDA went ahead and approved the narcotic—with no abuse-deterrent features. Some may find it hard to believe, but the drug was greenlighted against the recommendation of the agency’s own advisory committee. Attempting to make sense of such decisions can be dizzying. Nonetheless, Americans should be made aware of the controversies surrounding prescription opioids.

In 2012-13, Zohydro’s approval gained significant attention from the media, but the drug still went to market. Now five years later, the FDA is in the process of signing off on a new drug that is 500 times stronger than morphine, Market Watch reports. For reference, the deadly synthetic opioid fentanyl dominating the news cycle of late is 100 times more potent than morphine.


Prescription Opioids of Tomorrow

The FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Products Advisory Committee recommends Dsuvia for U.S. approval; a final decision could come as soon as Nov. 3, 2018, according to the article. The narcotic – which is roughly five times as powerful as fentanyl – comes in a preloaded plastic applicator; the medication is intended for sublingual use (under the tongue). Moreover, the chair of the agency’s committee, Dr. Raeford Brown, says that design makes it more divertible; Dr. Brown is against approving the drug. Still, the panel voted 10-3 in favor of Dsuvia.

“This drug offers no advance, in my mind, over previously available opioid formulations, but provides great risk of harm to patients and the general public health,” says Brown, a professor of anesthesiology and pediatrics at the University of Kentucky. He adds, “I just don’t believe at this point in the U.S. that there is any good reason to put another potent opioid on the streets.” 

AcelRx, the maker of Dsuvia, states that the drug would only be found in medically supervised settings, like a hospital, the article reports. However, Dr. Brown points out that preventing diversion of prescription opioids – even in specific environments – is challenging.

Opioid Addiction Treatment

If you are struggling with prescription painkillers or another form of opioid, please contact The Haven. We offer medically supervised, top quality care for those living with a use disorder or coöccurring mental illness. The Haven at Pismo is the perfect place to renew to your best today.