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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Abuse-Deterrent Drugs Are Not Bulletproof

Preventing people from abusing prescription narcotics has proven to be nearly impossible. Pharmaceutical companies who develop new drugs with abuse-deterrent properties, or reformulate older drugs with new safeguards, have found that abusers either find a way to circumvent the deterrents or switch to different opioids. This has left many people skeptical about the effectiveness of abuse-deterrent formulations of highly addictive prescription narcotics, The New York Times reports.

In 2010, Purdue Pharma’s abuse-deterrent formulation of OxyContin ® was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the two years following its release, OxyContin ® related overdoses dropped 19 percent, but heroin overdose rose 23 percent, according to a recent study. Nevertheless, pharmaceutical companies are still moving forward with the development of abuse-deterrent drugs, with about 30 drugs being tested and the FDA has already approved three, including:
  • Embeda ®, from Pfizer
  • Targiniq ®, from Purdue
  • Hysingla ®, from Purdue
In 2014, only 1.4 percent of the more than 219 million prescriptions for opioid painkillers that were written, had abuse-deterrent formulations, according to the article. Hopefully, the new drugs on the way will have an effect, even if people find ways around the new drug's defenses. Purdue Pharma’s chief medical officer, Dr. Gail Cawkwell, told the newspaper:

“On the whole, society is better off having abuse-deterrent formulations. Focusing solely on what they don’t do is like saying seatbelts aren’t important because they don’t prevent all traffic fatalities. These products won’t stop all prescription drug abuse, but they’re a necessary part of the solution.”

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