Single Pill Would Mix Morphine ... and Oxycodone
Its maker will tout Moxduo's benefits to the FDA today, in face of fears
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Apr 22, 2014 6:49 AM CDT
Updated Apr 26, 2014 8:33 AM CDT
Stock image   (Shutterstock)

(Newser) – On the one hand are the benefits: A single pill that would allow patients to ingest smaller doses of two drugs than they'd consume if they took the drugs separately, one with a lowered risk of respiratory complications, and one that eases intense pain rapidly. What's not to like about Moxduo, a new painkiller an FDA advisory committee will hold all-day hearings about today? Its makeup, perhaps. Moxduo merges morphine and oxycodone (that's the active ingredient in OxyContin) into a single pill. And though its intention, per maker QRxPharma, is to bring comfort to patients in severe pain, an addiction specialist doesn't mince words: "This is pure morphine and pure oxycodone. This is a product that is very easy to misuse. Very easy to crush and snort or crush and inject. ... We think it will exacerbate the opioid addiction epidemic."

To understand one of Moxduo's touted benefits, you have to understand the risks of morphine and oxycodone. Take too much, explains NPR, and they could suppress breathing to the point of death. That leaves some patients unable to take enough of either drug for fear of too great a breathing risk, not to mention other side effects ranging from vomiting to extreme itchiness. And as explains, other painkillers like Vicodin and Percocet have liver toxicity implications due to the acetaminophen in them; it reports that QRxPharma sees Moxduo as a replacement for these drugs, too. It estimates the "addressable market" for the new drug could be as many as 214 million prescriptions annually. After today's hearings the FDA committee will make a recommendation to the agency about whether to approve the drug. (Read about another contentious painkiller that did get FDA approval.)

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Showing 3 of 62 comments
Apr 27, 2014 12:52 PM CDT
A drug this strong can only thin the herd- Go for it!
Apr 27, 2014 12:27 AM CDT
Somebody is headed to Mexico!
Apr 26, 2014 11:02 AM CDT
There are certainly applications for such a powerful combination of drugs. There is just as certainly a huge risk in putting them out on the streets. Perhaps this should be used in facilities with very tight inventory control, like hospitals and hospices, where it can be used where indicated without filling bottles full of it and sending it out onto the street. A couple of these, one taken and forgotten and the next taken because of the forgetfulness, and a glass or two of wine could result in respiratory arrest. It's VERY powerful and should be managed accordingly.