If you read last week’s blog, you should have a basic understanding of how addiction changes the brain. With people who are addicted to opioids, the pleasure center of the brain is significantly altered. This means addicts develop a craving for their drugs of choice, and will do nearly anything to chase after the feeling the drugs produce.
It would be a misnomer to call new versions of prescription opioids “abuse-deterrent” or safe. There is no such thing as a safe prescription opioid. People addicted to prescription opioids are going to find ways to abuse these drugs. If they cannot, they may switch to heroin.
How Do Abuse-Deterrent Prescription Opioids Work?
Drugmakers like Purdue Pharma (the company behind OxyContin) have pushed state lawmakers to support abuse-deterrent drugs (also called ADFs, or abuse-deterrent formulations). The idea behind ADFs is to create prescription medications that are much more difficult to abuse.
For example, the abuse-deterrent version of OxyContin is more difficult to inject or inhale. For older versions of OxyContin, addicts would crush up the pills into a powder. They could mix the powder into a water solution and inject, or they would snort the powder. With the abuse-deterrent version, the pills would turn into a jelly instead of powder when crushed. This is only one example of an abuse-deterrent opioid medication.
It is important to understand that there is no such thing as a 100 percent safe prescription opioid. The assumption that such a product exists ignores the harsh reality of addiction. An addict will do almost anything to reproduce the feeling brought on by their drug of choice.
Why Don’t Abuse-Deterrent Drugs Work?
In an article published by www.philly.com, a prescription opioid addict commented that he would break down these abuse-deterrent drugs with water, lemon juice and a microwave to extract the active ingredient (oxycodone). In another article published by The Daily Beast, an addict commented they would bypass OxyContin’s jelly mechanism by shaving down the pills with a metal file, and then microwaving the jelly until it hardened, so it could be turned into a powder and injected or snorted.
If someone is truly addicted, they will find a way to bypass the medication’s mechanisms for preventing abuse. In the event this process is too cumbersome, they will simply turn to street drugs like heroin.
So why do pharma companies bother marketing “abuse-deterrent” drugs? The market for the drugs is worth billions of dollars. Ten billion dollars to be exact. Abuse-deterrent drugs are also patent-protected, keeping generic manufacturers from getting in on the profits.
Once again, these companies are resorting to deceptive marketing and lobbying campaigns to make money. Follow our blog next week for details on the multimillion dollar lobbying campaigns carried out by drug companies who manufacturer prescription opioids.
The New Jersey product liability attorneys at Keefe Law Firm are dedicated to informing the public about unsafe drugs and consumer products.