New opioid pain-killer is designed to limit its abuse

A unique opioid pain-killer is about to hit the market.  Troxyca ER is unique because this powerful drug, powerful enough to handle pain that requires 24/7 management, is designed to reduce its own abuse.

Drug abusers frequently crush opioid pills in order to intensify their “high.” But Troxyca ER capsules, just approved by the Food and Drug Administration, contain a core of naltrexone surrounded by the pain-killer oxycodone. Naltrexone is a medication that blocks the euphoric and sedative effects of drugs such as heroin, morphine, and codeine.

If the Troxyca ER capsule is taken as directed, the naltrexone should remain sequestered and the patient should receive the pain-killing oxycodone in an extended-release manner. But, if the capsule is crushed the nalrexone is released and the oxycodone “high” should be neutralized.  Pfizer, the manufacturer, cautions that abuse is still possible, however.

“Public health authorities and regulators have encouraged the development of treatments that are more difficult to abuse, yet offer pain relief to appropriate patients when used as indicated,” says Pfizer’s Dr. Rory O’Connor. “The development of this medication with abuse-deterrent properties is another example of our ongoing commitment to advancing science and the treatment of patients with pain conditions.”

Earlier this year an FDA panel recommended approval of an abuse-deterrent for morphine called Arymo ER.  It’s manufactured as a very hard tabled, which would make crushing or chewing very difficult.  To deter injection, the pill turns to gel if it’s combined with a liquid.

A major problem

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 44 people die each day from overdoses of prescription painkillers n the United States.  According to a 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, more than 4 million Americans engage in non-medical use of prescription painkillers each month.  About 1.9 million Americans met the criteria for prescription painkillers use disorder in 2014.



About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at FairfaxNews. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years.  This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns.  He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C. He has won two Ohio State Awards for his reporting and producing and he led coverage that won an Edward R. Murrow Award.