Monday, November 24, 2014

New Opioid Coming Soon: Hysingla ER

Because not only do we need another opioid on the market... but we need a new one from Purdue Pharma.

On the heels of the much debated approval of Zohyrdo ER, the market's first hydrocodone-only painkiller, comes the FDA's approval of Hysingla ER, the market's first hydrocodone-only painkiller with abuse-deterrent technology.  Purdue plans to launch the medication in "early 2015."

Like Zogenix (the makers of Zohydro), Purdue is touting the lack of acetaminophen as an attractive feature of the new medication.  But unlike Zohydro, Hysingla leverages Purdue's RESISTEC technology, which is "expected to deter misuse and abuse via chewing, snorting, and injecting.  However, abuse of Hysingla ER by the intravenous, intranasal, and oral routes is still possible." (quoting from the Purdue Pharma press release).  

Now is as good a time as any to restate my position on abuse deterrent technology:

I am 100% supportive of abuse-deterrent formulations of prescription opioids.  These formulations are effective in combating abuse and diversion (at least in the short-term - it seems drug addicts often find a way to crack the code of each newly formulated medication.  But that doesn't mean we should stop trying, nor does it mean we should eliminate the economic incentive for the pharmaceutical companies to develop such technology).  

To me, though, this conversation is a distraction.  While eliminating abuse and diversion would be great for the work comp system, these aberrant behaviors are not driving the bulk of the problem.  The vast majority of cases in which PRIUM intervenes involve legitimate prescriptions being taken as prescribed.  Very little pill crushing.  Very little intravenous injections.  Very little drug dealing.  

The problem as we see it is lack of medical necessity.  In most cases, it doesn't matter if the patient's opioid is abuse-deterrent or not.  If it's medically unnecessary, if it's leading to loss of function, if it's leading to dependence and addiction... it needs to go away.  The doctor will be better educated.  The patient will get better.  The cost of care will go down.  Everyone wins.  

Abuse deterrent technology is great, but if we focus on technology over medical necessity, we will have missed the mark and the crisis will continue.  

On Twitter @PRIUM1

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