The turn of the century has witnessed an increased use of opioid-based medication. This is not without negative consequences, as the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates over 15 million people suffer from opioid use disorder. Over 130 deaths occur daily due to opioid-related drug overdose, says the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This opioid addiction epidemic does not look like it will end anytime soon, as more deaths are recorded every year in the United States. What is the driving force behind these prescription pain pills, and what does the future hold?
Pain Management and the Opioid Epidemic
Pain management is a growing health concern among physicians in the United States. More people than ever before are battling with severe and acute pain. According to the CDC, over 50 million Americans (about 20% of the adult population) suffer from high-impact chronic pain in 2016.
The fight against opioid use disorder is an ongoing challenge for organizations such as the CDC and HHS. Overdose deaths continue to rise across every region of the United States, cutting across genders, age groups, and economic backgrounds. Over the last 20 years, drug overdose cases have tripled, resulting in over 63,000 mortalities – over 42,000 of these incidents involved an illicit or prescription opioid.
With so many Americans struggling with severe pain on a daily basis, pharmaceutical companies are now being challenged to produce even more potent and powerful drugs for the management of pain. In this regards, synthetic opioid pain relievers such as methadone and fentanyl were released for the management of pain associated with surgery or advanced cancer. Fentanyl has been reported to be more than 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine.
Sadly, fentanyl bears a high risk of misuse and addiction. The medical community, as well as a growing number of people and organizations, have repeatedly issued warnings about the continued use of this potentially lethal opioid painkiller. Significantly, fentanyl-related overdose deaths have been on the rise due to increased access to illegally produced fentanyl. CDC statistics show that in 2017, about 28,400 people died as a consequence of overdosing on a synthetic opioid other than methadone (usually fentanyl).
In the midst of this controversy about the continuous administration of the potent opioid painkiller, fentanyl, an even more powerful super opioid, Dsuvia was recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
What Is Dsuvia?
Dsuvia is a new opioid pain-killer presented in tablet form. It is one of the latest products of the pharmaceutical company AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The company was co-founded in 2005 by Dr. Pamela Palmer, former head of pain management center at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center. Dsuvia is formulated from the synthetic opioid painkiller Sufentanil, which is 1,000 times more potent than morphine and 5 to 10 times more powerful than fentanyl.
With a broad spectrum of opioid painkillers already on the shelf, why the need for a new opioid pain reliever? This is not unrelated to the experience of the co-founder herself. As noted by Dr. Palmer, a greater percentage of lawsuits against hospitals could have been avoided had they have used the correct dosage of non-intravenous painkillers. This new form is said to be suited for people who may not be fit for intravenous injection. It is also believed that Dsuvia will help with dosing problems associated with intravenous opioids.
Dsuvia dissolves readily under a patient’s tongue, quickly releasing its powerful pain-relieving effects in conditions such as trauma due to gunshots injuries or broken limb bones. Due to its perceived capabilities on the battlefront, this new medication received financial support from the U.S Army Medical Research and Material Command.
FDA’s Approval of Dsuvia: Why a Growing Concern?
In 2017, drug overdose deaths in the United States amounted to 70,237 reported cases, with synthetic opioids (other than methadone) being the main driver of such overdose deaths. In that same year, the opioid epidemic had been declared a public health emergency.
The current opioid crisis has its roots in the 1990s when pharmaceutical companies assured the medical community that opiate-based medications were a safe means to manage pain, without the risk for abuse and addiction. Two decades down the line, medical experts are beginning to see the need to be cautious when recommending opioid medication for pain management.
There is now a new divide of opinion about the FDA’s decision to approve a new super opioid that is several times more powerful than fentanyl. On the one hand, there are experts who feel we already have enough medication for the treatment of the different kinds of pain, and that the approval of a new more potent opioid medication will only make the epidemic worse.
On the other hand, there are others who think that a new version of Sufentanil isn’t such a big deal, as the intravenous form of this medication already had FDA’s approval since 1984. According to experts on this side of the divide, not approving Dsuvia will send a negative message to drug developers who have invested heavily into developing this new “novel” drug – that the United States does not support research into the development of better drugs for the management of health conditions.
This is an ongoing debate that may only be settled over the course of time. However, as reported by the makers of Dsuvia, the medication will in no way contribute to making the opioid epidemic worse, as it will only be approved for administration in a controlled hospital setting. However, we know that this has never stopped addicts from accessing powerful opioids before.
How Can The Opioid Epidemic Be Confronted Successfully?
To successfully address the ongoing opioid crisis, there is a need for a concerted effort by healthcare providers, public health officials, law enforcement communities, and other sectors. The CDC in its effort to prevent opioid overdose deaths and other health risks adopted a five-point strategy which includes:
Improving access to high-quality data: This will help states in understanding the extent of the crisis and help direct resources in the right direction. Additionally, improved data helps in tracking the epidemic and in planning funding for relevant researches.
Developing State, Local and Tribal Capability: The CDC funds state efforts geared towards improving data collection and implementation of evidence-based prevention strategies.
Provide assistance to healthcare providers and the healthcare system: The CDC provides guidelines to healthcare providers on opioid prescription and pain management. This helps in making opioid prescribing safer and more effective.
Empowering people to make informed decisions: With more information on the extent of the opioid epidemic, Americans can be better prepared to make safer choices and avoid opioid misuse.
Establishing Partnership With Public Safety: A number of first responders are on the frontlines of preventing opioid overdose deaths – paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement. The CDC provides a guideline for these organizations, helping to improve their collaboration.
How to Come Off Opiates Successfully
If you or a loved one are struggling with opioid addiction, it is important to seek professional help without delay. The good news is, opioid addiction is a treatable disease. Delaying getting help for your loved one’s addiction will only make their condition progress to a point where it becomes impossible for them to make rational everyday decisions.
At Allure Detox, we understand that it’s not always easy to help your loved one to submit themselves to a drug rehab program. Addiction is a family disease, affecting the addicts and their loved ones. If you are having a hard time convincing your loved one to turn themselves over to a recovery program, then you need to contact us right away. We are an Inpatient Detox and Residential treatment center with a focus on healing all aspects of the disease of addiction.
Our empathetic addiction specialists understand your loved one’s struggles and can help you talk to them in a way that will make it easier for them to cooperate with you. In some instances, addicts tend to worry about dealing with painful withdrawal symptoms associated with coming off drugs.
Here at Allure Detox, we have a well-structured opioid detoxification program that will help you manage your withdrawal in a painless way. During your detox program, you will receive around-the-clock supervision from a clinical treatment team. This will make sure you get the needed support to cope with unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Contact us today to learn how to get started with your detox program. There is no need to keep worrying about whether you can recover from your opioid addiction. You can start healing today, once you pick up your phone and call our helpline. Remember, you are not alone in this, you have the full support of the medical team at Allure Detox.