Abuse-deterrent opioids and rehab and pain management supplies

What is the relationship between abuse-deterrent opioids and rehab and pain management supplies? Let’s start from the beginning. The FDA has issued a guidance to help increase the development of abuse-deterrent generic opioids, as well as make those generic versions of approved brand name drugs accessible to people. “For the millions of Americans who suffer from significant pain, and the health systems that serve them, generic opioids can be an appropriate and affordable option for patient care,” FDA Commissioner Dr. Robert Califf said in a press release. “We recognize that abuse-deterrent technology is still evolving and is only one piece of a much broader strategy to combat the problem of opioid abuse. But strongly encouraging innovation to increase access to generic forms of abuse-deterrent opioid medications is an important element in that strategy.”

However, abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF) therapy is not the only method for preventing opioid addiction among people who suffer from chronic or acute pain. Rehab and pain management supplies such as TENS units in particular and electrotherapy in general are also readily available at medical supply stores like Discount Medical Supplies. These products have the added benefit that they are a completely drug-free approach, so that there is no risk of abuse. Of course, these devices aren’t for everybody, either; patients should discuss the use of electrotherapy with their doctors before considering it as a treatment alternative. Moreover, they are not intended to be a substitute for opioid painkillers – abuse-deterrent or otherwise – but could certainly complement them.

As the FDA release says, the agency is encouraging the development of technology to prevent – though admittedly not necessarily avoid – the abuse of pain medication, such as making it more difficult to crush or dissolve a tablet to snort or inject its contents. Additionally, “the FDA has required all sponsors of brand name products with approved abuse-deterrent labeling to conduct long-term epidemiological studies to assess their effectiveness in reducing abuse in practice.” In light of the facts that generics tend to be more affordable and have properties that non-ADFs lack, improving access to generic ADF opioids can help decrease abuse and ensure access to proper treatment – though further research is still required.

“Collaboration is critical in fostering innovation in the field of abuse deterrence,” deputy director for regulatory programs in the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research Dr. Douglas Throckmorton. “It is essential that a generic product is no less abuse-deterrent than the brand name product. We look forward to actively engaging in discussions to help inform our thinking about the evaluation of abuse-deterrent technologies.” In that spirit of collaboration, healthcare officials and providers should keep in mind as well the advantages of non-invasive methods like rehab and pain management supplies.

Related: 73 facts you need to know about the opioid overdose epidemic