The abuse of painkillers, especially opioids, has received national attention as a growing epidemic in the U.S., with federal officials recently stepping up plans to monitor frequent prescribers and users.
In what could provide a potential boost to those efforts, an oxycodone drug designed to deter tampering — altered so the pill is less easily abused — has received approval from the Food and Drug Administration, Pfizer and Acura Pharmaceuticals announced Monday.
The companies acknowledge there isn’t proof that the redesigned drug, an immediate-release form of oxycodone called Oxecta, will be less readily abused than traditional forms of oxycodone. But the tablet has several safeguards built in to frustrate someone trying to inject or snort the pills, such as causing an uncomfortable burn in the nasal passages.
The drug isn’t the first form of oxycodone designed to discourage tampering. It joins an extended-release formulation of OxyContin approved last year.
But as the FDA points out in a Q&A on OxyContin, that drug isn’t “tamper-proof” either:
“The new formulation of OxyContin reduces the likelihood that this drug will be misused and abused, although it can not completely eliminate this possibility.”
Hence, the government’s call to crack down on pain clinics that write too many prescriptions and to monitor users who shop around for opioids.
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