Why Another New Painkiller is Actually a Good Thing

Last updated on November 4th, 2019

Chronic pain affects more than 100 million Americans. It also costs the economy up to $635 billion each year in healthcare expenses and lost productivity.

Opiate pain medications are – and have been – the gold standard for treating this type of constant and debilitating pain. However, thanks to rampant prescription opioid abuse and widespread addiction, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) landed under intense public pressure to do something that would combat the national epidemic. The FDA hopes its most recent drug approval will do just that.

Targiniq ER Gets a Green Light

The medication combines oxycodone — the active ingredient found in OxyContin — with the anti-overdose drug naloxone.
The FDA announced its approval of a combination pain pill that is designed to discourage abuse by painkiller addicts. Purdue Pharmaceuticals, the makers of OxyContin, developed Targiniq ER as an extended release pain reliever. The medication combines oxycodone — the active ingredient found in OxyContin — with the anti-overdose drug naloxone.

FDA regulators approved Targiniq ER for chronic, round-the-clock pain that is not relieved by other medications. It shouldn’t be used for as-needed pain relief. The opiate -naloxone combo will be available in 10/5 mg, 20/10 mg, and 40/20 mg dosage strengths that should be taken every 12 hours.

Though Targiniq ER will be a new opiate medication to U.S. patients, the product has been around for several years. The formulation was first approved in Germany in 2006 under the brand name Targin. Currently, forms of this medication are marketed and sold in 32 countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, and Australia.

Deterring Abuse

Over the last 15 years, deaths related to addictive opioid medications like OxyContin and Vicodin have quadrupled. In 2010, an estimated 16,500 deaths were linked to the abuse of opiate painkillers, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These statistics have caused many to demand tighter pharmaceutical guidelines and regulations.

When someone tries to crush the tablets for snorting or injecting, the naloxone is activated and blocks the… euphoric effects.
Targiniq ER is a new kind of opiate medication that is designed to deter abuse. The main deterrent of this opioid pain medication comes in the form of naloxone, which is used to reverse overdose effects of addictive painkillers like morphine, methadone, codeine, and others. When someone tries to crush the tablets for snorting or injecting, the naloxone is activated and blocks the drug’s euphoric effects. This makes Targiniq ER more difficult to abuse and less appealing to addicts.

Targiniq ER also utilizes labeling as a deterrent. In fact, it is the second extended-release/long-acting opioid that will bear FDA-approved abuse-deterrent labeling consistent with the FDA’s 2013 draft guidance for industry.

The FDA admits that Targiniq ER is not fail proof; the potential for abuse is still there. Though a release of naloxone can prevent the opiate-induced euphoria addicts seek, the pills must first be crushed for this safety feature to be effective. By simply swallowing the pills, the naloxone deterrent can be bypassed.


Related: FDA Rejects Opioid Painkiller Moxduo … But Why?

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