New Opioid Painkiller From Oxy Maker Purdue Pharma Receives Approval

By Lee Johnson

Oxy Creater’s Abusive Resistant Drug Approved - PhysicianHealthProgramThe prescription drug abuse epidemic doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.

There have been many suggested approaches to reducing the numbers of deaths from overdoses, but the fact remains that opioid (translation: narcotic) painkillers are always going to be open to abuse.

Purdue Pharma Trying An “Abuse Resistant” Drug

One of the most superficially appealing approaches is making “abuse resistant” versions of these drugs, and Purdue Pharma—the much maligned company responsible for OxyContin, and the concealing of its risks—is giving this strategy another try with the new drug, Targiniq ER.

However, it ultimately comes with the same problems as all “abuse resistant” options, and arguably has some additional risks thrown in too.

Why Prescription Drug Abuse Matters

Make no mistake: the abuse of prescription medications is as serious a problem as the abuse of illicit drugs. OxyContin’s interaction with the brain is effectively identical to that of heroin, but the veneer of medical approval makes people think they’re safer than street drugs. Now, in the U.S., prescription painkiller related overdoses are responsible for more deaths than heroin and cocaine combined. They are addictive in just the same way as heroin, and aside from the fact that they don’t need to be injected, they are deadly in just the same way too. The only reason they still exist is because it’s the best approach we have to help people in serious pain.

The New Formulation: Targiniq ER

OxyContin is an oxycodone-based painkiller and Targiniq ER is essentially the same thing. The main difference is that Targiniq ER also contains naloxone, a substance that blocks the effects of opioids, but this is only released when the tablet is crushed.

In other words, a legitimate pain patient wouldn’t have the active medication blocked when he or she takes it for its painkilling properties, but someone who crushed the drug to snort or inject it (to get a quicker dose of the opioid) would have his or her attempt thwarted by the chemical.

The new medication also comes in an extended-release formulation, meaning that it’s much harder to obtain the large concentrations of the drug in the body abusers need to get high. It definitely sounds like an effective approach.

Specific Issues With Targiniq ER

It isn’t as good as it sounds. Alongside more general problems, there are a couple of specific reasons Targiniq ER isn’t going to stem the tide of prescription drug abuse.

First, the idea that most abusers crush prescription drugs in order to get high is flat-out incorrect. When taken orally, as most do, the new formulation of oxycodone would work just like OxyContin; the naloxone would remain inactive and the user would get high.

The extended-release formula would help this, but abusers will keep taking the drug until they get high. If the substance is released more slowly, users will take more, and this actually increases the risk of overdose.

When the original extended release formula of OxyContin came out, this is what happened and there were thousands of overdoses as a result.

More Problems With “Abuse Resistant” Narcotic Drugs

Unfortunately, these are all comparatively minor issues because all such medicines are based on a critical fallacy. The idea is that people who abuse prescription medicines will stop if one specific drug is made impossible to abuse. Anybody with a basic understanding of the nature of addiction can see why this is wrong. There will always be another way to get high, and addicts will always find it.

Drugs aren’t taken just because a painkiller can be abused; they are taken because individuals use poor coping mechanisms to tackle their personal issues, taking substances to numb their emotional pain or discomfort.

Abuse resistant drugs won’t mean that pain doesn’t exist; they will just mean people with these issues will turn to other substances. You have to rectify the issues that caused the addiction, not just cut off the substance itself. That’s why previous attempts to make drugs abuse-resistant have led to surges in heroin abuse. It just doesn’t work.

No Easy Solutions To Prescription Drug Abuse

The FDA claims this is only part of a broader approach to tackle prescription drug addiction, and will be monitoring the drug after it hits the market. As you’ve seen, it could be legitimately countered that this “part” of the “broader approach” is next to useless, likely only to drive users to other drugs like heroin.

There are no easy solutions. The only way to tackle it is to help prevent new cases of addiction from happening by addressing the deeper social and personal issues that make individuals want to abuse substances in the first place. Purdue Pharma and the FDA would rather there be an easy fix like abuse-resistant drugs, but we all know what the result will be. People struggling with addiction need real help, but all this will likely do is lead to further suffering and death.

Prescription Pain Pills May Not Always Be the Answer – Learn More About The Epidemic Of Prescription Drugs

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