Drug Companies Aim To Complicate Opioid Abuse
Can science and perhaps chemistry be an effective tool in fighting the nation’s opioid crisis? To their credit, several drug companies are at least trying to make a dent by building pills that are “harder to abuse.” Though these types of experiments have had mixed results, we do commend those pharma brands for giving it their best shot and acknowledging this growing epidemic.
So what exactly can a drug company do to deter an addict from abusing their product? Child proof caps have long been used to deter young ones from gaining access to pill bottles, but it’s not going to solve this problem. So the next step is to take a look at the chemical compound of each painkiller.
Per The Washington Post, one company has worked on the texture of their prescription opioids. By including certain additives, the pills can actually become more difficult to grind and snort. This type of substance also makes it much more challenging to convert the pills into liquid form.
Another interesting solution involved creating “abuse-deterrent opioids.” This is where the lab techs actually rearrange the chemical compounds and include elements of naloxone. Naloxone, as we all know, has been one of the only known antidotes to opioid overdoses, 0ff setting the euphoric sensations created by the original drug. By including portions of it in each pill, scientists have discovered that the chemicals nullify once the pill is crushed.
As The Post points out, these types of remedies have been somewhat successful in the past. Back in 2010, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma reformulated their drug making it more goopy and chunky when crushed. The company later claimed that OxyContin emergency room overdose visits dropped dramatically following the switch.
As positive as those examples sound, this concept is still far from perfect. The company Endo Pharmaceuticals attempted to modify their pills in 2012, making them harder to crush. Later they learned that patients turned to liquifying their painkillers, then injecting the elements into their veins. This actually caused an increase in overdoses within the Endo base.
There is also the issue of cost and bottom-line profits. Reformulating pills uses up money and resources. It also makes the product more expensive leading to less revenue for the pharma companies. And let’s face it, there will always be some companies out there that go the cheaper (and deadlier) route.
But we are certainly not giving up hope on this concept and applaud all of the companies who are attempting to address the issue. Curbing this nationwide addiction may have to start at the top and we are hopeful that this could be an encouraging first step.