(NaturalNews) Hampered by media reports of widespread abuse and gentle slaps on the wrist by federal regulators, the drug industry is reluctantly developing tamper-proof technologies that it claims will help curb opioid junkies from taking pills without a prescription. But at least one doctor has publicly stated that such measures are nothing more than an empty gimmick that will do nothing to address prescription drug abuse, one of the leading causes of disease and death in America today.
Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told the Los Angeles Times that a new drug by Purdue Pharma known as Targiniq, which contains an extended-release reformulation of the popular opioid medication oxycodone, is basically useless. The drug contains a combination of both oxycodone and naloxone, the latter of which blocks the euphoric high that normally comes when snorting or injecting oxycodone alone.
The FDA agrees with its proposed usage, but Dr. Kolodny says the reformulation will have "no real-world impact," to quote the words of FierceBiotech writer John Carroll. Most prescription drug abusers today swallow pills whole rather than snort or inject them, which suggests that Targiniq is nothing more than pathetic smokescreen to shield the drug industry from liability for the widespread harm being caused by prescription opioids.
"If we really want to turn this epidemic around, the most important thing is to stop creating new cases of addiction," stated Dr. Kolodny to the LA Times. "Coming up with new gimmicks isn't going to help."
FDA still approving dangerous meds with no tamper protection built in
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, as many as 21 million people worldwide abuse opioids. Nearly 2 million of these folks hail from the United States, according to 2010 data, with the rate of overdose deaths having quadrupled throughout the country since 1999 -- most of these deaths are concentrated in the South and Northeast.
And yet the FDA, though giving lip service to stronger restrictions on these deadly drugs, has done little to address the problem. The agency continues to approve new drugs that contain no tamper protection whatsoever, including a drug known as Zohydro that contains a pure form of hydrocodone. As news about this approval has spread, the drug's manufacturer has already begun working on "abuse-resistant" varieties to quell public outrage.
Rather than create more abuse-resistant drug varieties, regulators need to work harder to improve the prescription and distribution process for deadly drugs, say experts. Lynn Webster, a pain and addiction specialist and former president of the American Academy of Pain Medicine, told the LA Times that prescribing practices need to change, not drugs.
"[T]he obvious alternative is not to have abuse-deterrent formulations, and I don't know anyone who would find that preferable," he stated.
The FDA seems to agree, though in practice the agency seems unconcerned with how opioid drugs are actually prescribed. In a statement, the FDA admitted that opioid drugs like Targiniq should only be prescribed to people "for whom alternative treatment options are ineffective, not tolerated or would be otherwise inadequate to provide sufficient pain management."