Combo Painkiller Designed to Be Tougher to Abuse

FDA approves opioid that won't cause euphoria when crushed
By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 24, 2014 2:45 PM CDT
Combo Pain-Killer Designed to Be Tougher to Abuse

The FDA has approved a new form of OxyContin that unites two unlikely bedfellows in an attempt to curb abuse, reports AP. The drug from Purdue Pharma is called Targiniq ER, and it combines oxycodone—the main painkilling ingredient in OxyContin, one that causes feelings of euphoria—with naloxene, which can block those euphoric feelings. The principle is this: The naloxene will kick in only if the pill is crushed, a common method among addicts. If the pill is swallowed whole, the naloxene remains dormant. That still leaves plenty of opportunity for abuse of the drug, the FDA acknowledges, because taking pills whole is actually the most common method among addicts. But the agency sees it as another tool for doctors.

"Well done to the manufacturer for placing some built-in pharmacological protections," an ER physician tells CNN. "It won't stop orally ingested overdose deaths, but will limit some of its street marketability." But another doctor, the president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, sees a risk if doctors perceive this drug as "safe" and over-prescribe. “If we really want to turn this epidemic around, the most important thing is to stop creating new cases of addiction,” he tells the LA Times. “Coming up with new gimmicks isn’t going to help.” (More prescription painkillers stories.)

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