Turns Out Tamper-Resistant Painkillers Aren’t Helping
Prescription drug abuse has become an epidemic.
Nearly 5 million Americans, or 1.9 percent of the population, use pain relievers – or opioids – for non-medical purposes, according to a 2012 survey by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Of this segment, many have zeroed in on extended-release opioids over instant-release drugs since they contain more of the active ingredient and can be altered to release the pain killer all at once. As a result, abusers receive a much faster “high.”
Trying to Prevent Addiction and Overdose
In an effort to prevent addiction and overdose of these pain relievers, companies have recently developed tamper-resistant drugs, which are more difficult to crush, snort or inject. One such example is Oxecta, an immediate release oxycodone tablet that uses a technology designed to trap the oxycondone inside a viscous gelatinous mixture when dissolved to inject intravenously. Another is the Oxycontin controlled-release tablets, a formula that when crushed or dissolved by an abuser, will then transform into a gel.
But do these really work in deterring those from prescription drug abuse?
The Truth About Tamper-Resistant Pills
In addition to increasing evidence that the overall number of deaths had not decreased, it was found that only a small portion of drug abusers were found to be affected by these built-in deterrents. Most would simply just avoid these drugs all together and turn to other types of opioids, such as heroin – an unintended consequence of this technology.
“Regulations requiring tamper resistance represent an expensive, technical approach that is influenced by pharmaceutical interests and cannot solve the opioid crisis. An evidence-based, multifaceted strategy is needed — one that has real potential to curb opioid-related harms at a population level,” the authors conclude.
Additional Reading: Mars vs. Venus: How Does Gender Affect Prescription Drugs?
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