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A practical and ethical solution to the opioid scheduling conundrum

Authors Schatman M, Darnall B

Received 23 November 2013

Accepted for publication 25 November 2013

Published 6 December 2013 Volume 2014:7 Pages 1—3

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S58148

Checked for plagiarism Yes


Michael E Schatman,1 Beth D Darnall2

1Foundation for Ethics in Pain Care, Bellevue, WA, USA; 2Stanford University School of Medicine, Division of Pain Medicine, Palo Alto, CA, USA

Abuse-deterrent formulations (ADFs) of opioids have been in existence since the 1970s,1 with abuse-deterrent mechanisms including physical barriers (eg, barriers to crushing), chemical additives such as opioid antagonists or irritants, and prodrugs that require conversion of the medication into their active forms in the gastrointestinal tract.2 A recent systematic review and meta-analysis3 found no difference between ADFs and non-ADFs in terms of efficacy or adverse events including nausea, vomiting, dizziness, headache, somnolence, constipation, and pruritus. Notably, the efficacy of ADFs in preventing abuse is not yet established, and therefore the authors could only comment on their "potential … to deter or resist some of the common forms of tampering associated with opioid misuse and abuse". While Turk et al2 have elucidated the complexity of producing high-quality research on the efficacy of ADFs to reduce opioid abuse, recent data are encouraging. For example, since Purdue Pharma’s (Stamford, CT, USA) voluntary reformulation of OxyContin® to an ADF in 2010, abuse of the medication has decreased significantly.4–6 As a specific example, National Poison Data System statistics indicated a 36% reduction in abuse exposure for OxyContin following ADF reformulation. Meanwhile, researchers for Purdue Pharma found an increase in abuse exposure for other single-entity oxycodone products and a 42% increase in abuse exposure for heroin during the same time frame.7 Although OxyContin has been the most investigated abuse deterrent formulation, ADFs of other opioids have demonstrated promise in preliminary investigations.8,9

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