Prescription painkiller abuse has long been an epidemic on the increase. In response, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave its approval today to a first of its kind painkiller called Targiniq ER. Targiniq ER is novel painkiller because it is a combination of the powerful opiate oxycodone and the drug often used to reverse painkiller overdose, naloxone.
An article about the subject posted on CNN tells us that oxycodone is part of a family of powerful painkillers called opioid analgesics. This group of drugs also includes morphine, hydrocodone, and hydromorphone. The Tech Times tells us that emergency room visits due to hydrocodone abuse have skyrocketed from 19,221 in 2000 to 86,258 in 2009. The Inquisitr further illustrates the increase in prescription painkiller abuse among consumers by telling us that the number of prescription painkiller overdose deaths among women have increased five-fold between 1999 and 2010, resulting in nearly 48,000 deaths.
Given the sheer magnitude of the increase in prescription painkiller abuse, it’s not surprising that the Food and Drug Administration would be willing to approve a drug like Targiniq ER. CNN tells us that when taken orally with the entire pill intact, Targiniq ER functions like an opiate prescription painkiller by releasing oxycodone which binds to receptors in the brain, thereby dulling the sensation of pain. In this situation, the naloxone lies dormant and has no effect. However, if the pill is crushed for injecting or snorting, the naloxone is released and functions to prevent the oxycodone from doing its job, thereby eliminating the euphoric effects of the oxycodone.
The Tech Times explains to us the FDA’s rationale behind approving Targiniq ER in combating the prescription painkiller abuse epidemic. The FDA’s Dr. Sharon Hertz stated that, “The FDA is committed to combating the misuse and abuse of all opioids, and the development of opioids that are harder to abuse is needed in order to help address the public health crisis of prescription drug abuse in the U.S.” The FDA’s approval of Targiniq ER has already been met with accolades by some in the medical community. CNN tells us that Dr. Stephen Anderson, an emergency room physician that regularly sees cases of opioid addiction, stated, “Well done to the manufacturer for placing some built-in pharmacological protections. It won’t stop orally ingested overdose deaths, but will limit some of its ‘street marketability.'”
Though Targiniq ER seems like a positive approach to many, including the FDA, not all physicians see it as a step in the right direction towards combating the prescription painkiller abuse problem. The Tech Times informs us that Dr. Andrew Kolodney, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, reminds us that, “If we really want to turn this epidemic around, the most important thing is to stop creating new cases of addiction. Coming up with new gimmicks isn’t going to help.”