The prevalence of opioid use and abuse has led to a new era of opioid drug development: Abuse deterrent (AD) opioids.

The goal?….

Maintain the efficacy of opioid formulations while improving their ability to deter abuse. Following guidelines developed by the FDA to categorize new opioid formulations, pharmaceutical companies are now on a quest to develop tomorrow’s safety net against opioid abuse.

How will the FDA be categorizing these new AD opioid formulations?

  1. Physical/chemical barriers
    Physical barriers that prevent the crushing, cutting, grating, grinding, or chewing of opioid formulations, alone or in combination with chemical barriers, which can resist extraction with common solvents (water, alcohol, organic solvents).
  2. Agonist/antagonist combinations
    Formulations with the addition of an opioid antagonist, released only when opioid drugs are manipulated. When triggered, the agonists “interfere with, reduce, or defeat” opioid induced euphoria commonly associated with abuse.
  3. Aversion
    The addition of a noxious component to formulations to produce an unpleasant effect when opioids are manipulated, or when a higher dose than prescribed is consumed. (For example, a nasal irritant to deter snorting.)
  4. Prodrug
    Biologically inactive substances metabolized inside the body to their active form: That is, the drug must be taken by its intended route and form in order to be properly metabolized.
  5. Delivery system
    The implementation of more difficult to manipulate drug delivery systems, such as subcutaneous implants, depot injectable formulations, beads within a capsule, and erodible matrix technology.
  6. Combination of 2 or more of the above
    Combining 2 or more of the above methods to decrease the likelihood of abuse.

More questions than answers

Though AD technology is advancing, it continues to carry with it an onslaught of unmet expectations/unanswered questions…

  • Is making an uncrushable pill really going to curb opioid abuse when it can be consumed in other ways?
  • Why aren’t efforts being made to explore more economically responsible, alternative therapies that don’t involve any form of opioids at all?
  • Will this approach yield enough penetration in the chronic pain treatment community to persuade physicians and patients to switch from their current prescriptions to abuse deterrent forms?

Helping curb the opioid epidemic

Only time will tell how the development of AD opioids will progress and effect the growing opioid abuse epidemic. Fortunately, you don’t have to await developing AD technology to take steps towards making a positive change. Readily available programs, including ANS expert nurse consulting and pharmacotherapy review can help you better address the need of pain patients, providing better outcomes, faster recovery times, and less risk than common opioid treatment regimens.

Ready to be part of the change? Contact ANS today and learn more about how ANS Pharmacotherapy Review can provide superior results for injured workers.