Backlash Grows Over Powerful New Opioid Treatment
The Food and Drug Administration announced that it has approved a new opioid known as Dsuvia, which has shown to be five to ten times stronger than fentanyl, one of the leading opioids currently on the market. It’s also 500 to 1,000 times stronger than morphine, one of the most common drugs for pain relief. The FDA’s approval of Dsuvia has some groups up in arms, citing concerns over the ongoing opioid crisis in America. Having an even stronger opioid on the market could make the opioid crisis even worse. Yet, some healthcare providers are standing up for Dsuvia and its ability to treat acute pain. Learn more about the ongoing debate over the use of Dsuvia.
The Case for Dsuvia
Dsuvia was created by a company called AcelRx as a way of treating patients suffering from acute pain, but it can only be administered in medically supervised settings. The pill dissolves under the tongue for fast absorption into the body. In defense of Dsuvia, the makers of this drug are citing the fact that the medical community hasn’t developed a new opioid in many years, leaving healthcare providers with few options when it comes to treating pain.
If a patient experiences acute pain, they would either need a shot of opioid medications in liquid form or they would have to swallow a pill, which could take up to an hour to kick in. With Dsuvia on the market, healthcare providers can quickly help their patients find relief from acute pain, even if they’re tolerant to other opioids.
To prevent individuals from abusing Dsuvia, AcelRx states that the drug is only intended for use in medically supervised settings, such as hospitals and doctor’s offices. This prevents patients from abusing the drug in their own home or selling it on the street. The makers of the drug stress that Dsuvia could actually prevent dosing errors when healthcare providers administer liquid formulations of opioids. Those at AcelRx have also stated that they’re doing everything they can to contain the drug by using strict auditing and monitoring controls to supervise manufacturers, distributors, wholesalers, and even those in medically supervised settings.
Is It the Right Time for Dsuvia?
Despite these arguments for Dsuvia, many believe that it will exacerbate the opioid crisis. With 115 people dying every day from an opioid overdose in the U.S., the recent FDA approval of Dsuvia may do little to reverse these trends.
Several high-profile officials have come out against Dsuvia, including Dr. Raeford Brown, chair of the FDA advisory committee on analgesics and anesthetic drug products, and Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, a place with some of the highest opioid overdose rates in the country. Both parties believe that because Dsuvia is stronger than the other opioids on the market, it’s more likely to be abused.
Dr. Raeford Brown cited concerns over industry’s ability to contain and control opioid drugs once they’ve been released into the market. Distributors, manufacturers and wholesalers have done little to curb the flow of illegal opioids in years past, and there’s little evidence to support the notion that things will be different with Dsuvia.
Only time will tell if Dsuvia is the savior some are hoping for or another dark chapter in the ongoing opioid crisis.