Do we really need a more potent, and more addictive, opioid?

Image credit: Da Hee Han

In the midst of a national opioid crisis, how badly do we need another formidable painkiller?

This vexing question has been widely debated since the Food and Drug Administration set off a furor last month when it approved Dsuvia, a tablet version of a decades-old intravenous painkiller that is up to 10 times more potent than the highly addictive fentanyl. Critics argued that alternatives exists and that such a powerful opioid could easily be abused by being diverted, despite a prohibition on retail pharmacy sales. But the endorsement was championed by the military, which maintains that such a medicine is needed in combat zones.

Does the drug deliver the speedy pain relief that is advertised?

In a study of patients who underwent abdominal surgery, they first perceived decreased pain at 15 minutes, which was statistically significant. This is, indeed, rather quick, and was the primary endpoint, although the actual amount of pain did not lessen very much during that time.

Related article:  Genetic tests are used to determine antidepressant efficacy – but science might not back up claims

In other words, they felt some pain relief in the early going, but Dsuvia did not meaningfully relieve their pain for nearly an hour.

Ultimately, Dsuvia does have a unique method of delivery and may, therefore, prove useful in some battlefield situations. But given the opioid crisis, this episode could prove painful in a very different way.

Read full, original post: The military pushed it for the battlefield. The FDA went along. Is the newest opioid any better?

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