Opiate Drug Nucynta Approved by the FDA

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Nucynta is an opiate medication that is similar in effect to Vicodin and Percocet, according to Medical News Today. Johnson & Johnson has approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to make the drug available in an extended-release format. What’s the significance? Like OxyContin, also available in an extended-release tablet, it can mean a higher potential for abuse.

Nucynta Approved by the FDA

Nucynta is classified as a schedule II drug. Schedule II drugs are a designated as such when they have a high potential for abuse but still can be used for legitimate medical purposes. Other similar drugs include methadone, oxycodone, morphine, and cocaine. Approved in 2008, Nucynta is prescribed for moderate to severe pain. Until now, it has only been available in an immediate release format.

Extended Release Tablets

Extended release opiate painkillers allow patients to take one dose per day, rather than multiple times. An initial amount of the pain reliever is released to provide immediate relief of pain. Then another layer on the tablet causes a delay in the release of the next dose of pain reliever.

So what’s the problem? The problem is the high rate of abuse among pills that come in this format. OxyContin is one of the most commonly abused prescription drugs due in part to the fact that it is available in this extended release tablets. Those who abuse the drug often do so by crushing the pills before taking them in order to get a higher dose of painkiller all at once. Because Nucynta is an opiate painkiller, the approval for extended release form is controversial. Will it become the next preferred drug of abuse?

Prevention of Painkiller Abuse

Patients can develop an addiction to their medication when they take more than prescribed or crush the substance. Diversion of medications is another issue. Those who are prescribed painkillers legally may sell or give their pills to others. Therefore, those who use the drug develop an addiction or exacerbate a pre-existing addiction. Consequently, these drugs are very concerning.

One way that companies and regulatory agencies like the FDA are talking about limiting the abuse potential is to change the design. The hope is that there may be a different format that is resistant to crushing or breaking.

Another form of prevention of drug abuse is to increase the number of statewide databases. Also providing cross-country referencing of those databases would be wise. This way, doctors who prescribe and pharmacists who fill the prescription can work together. It is key to make sure that no one is receiving duplicates or more than medically necessary.

One way parents can limit their teen’s access to prescription drugs is to make sure to keep a close eye on their own prescriptions. If you are prescribed a medication for the short term, make sure to dispose of the remaining pills. Don’t keep them in the medicine cabinet for curious teens to find.

Talk openly to your teen about the harmful consequences of drug abuse. If there’s concern that your adolescent may already be abusing prescription drugs, help is available.

Teen treatment programs offer high quality care. This can help lead your teen and your family on a path to sustainable healing and recovery.

If you or someone you love is in need of help, contact us. We are here to help.