Working in a hospital pharmacy, I see or hear of it all too often; a patient gets admitted to the Emergency Room with opioid overdose. Some patients pull through, and others do not. Opioid abuse is a growing epidemic in the United States.
The FDA has asked drug manufacturers to research and generate opioid-containing pain relievers with abuse-deterrent capabilities. Teva, one pharmaceutical producer, has invented a new and novel oral tablet with that is a deterrent to abuse.
The main forms of abuse of opioid drugs are to inject into the veins, crush and “dump” the tablet into alcohol or snort it. Teva’s innovative technology makes use of both chemical and physical barriers. The drug becomes a viscous gel when altered, or as Teva representatives state, the altered tablet turns into a “gooey mess.”
Teva, with support and guidance from the FDA, conducted several studies with individuals showing the value of their new technology in reducing abuse. Succinctly reported, drugs were altered in many ways, the participants were asked whether they like the drug and would use it again. Most drug users said that they would not.
Developing a tablet technology is a positive step in alleviating oxycodone use and then should also reduce the number of pharmacy robberies, the “easiest” way in which to obtain these potent pain relievers that are highly addictive. But the United States faces another challenging issue in the battle against opioid abuse.
Heroin, another opioid derivative, is an illegal drug in the U.S., a schedule I drug. Its use is increasing with the tighter controls of the other opioid drugs. Law enforcement needs to find ways to reduce the illegal import of heroin into the country and shut down the producers.
Even more important, how do we help these individuals that are prone to turning to opioid drugs as a means of escape or a type of recreation that ultimately leads to addiction? The real solution is bringing up individuals who are bright, have a high sense of well-being, a positive attitude, a desire to serve others and not be served. When we can figure that out, indeed we will have an addictive-free society.