Prescription drug abuse is the inappropriate use of prescribed medication in a way or dosage not intended by a doctor. Instead of taking a carefully limited amount for pain, the person abusing drugs may ground up pills, smoking or injecting them for a powerful, and very dangerous “high.” Some people may believe that, because they are legal and available from a doctor, that opioid painkillers provide a safer alternative to street drugs like heroin, but once a drug is not being taken as directed under medical supervision, it can be extremely risky.
According to a study by the Center for Disease Control, overdose of prescription drugs is the leading cause of injury death, surpassing automobile accidents in 2011. This extremely dangerous form of recreational drug use is distressingly common. A survey of teenagers by Columbia University’s Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) revealed that 46% of teens said painkillers like Vicodin and OxyCotten were the most commonly misused drugs among their peers, and that they were easier to get ahold of then alcohol.
While many people urgently need these painkillers to help continue to function and further along a healthful recovery after surgery or in the midst of chronic pain, there is a lot of work that needs to be done to prevent these drugs from being misused. The drug companies themselves have recently gotten into the act themselves, trying to create medications with less potential for abuse, and the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has recently approved one of them: Targiniq ER (naloxone hydrochloride).
How Targiniq ER is different
Developed by Perdue Pharama L.P., Targiniq is a an extended release, long acting opioid analgestic, which treats severe, continual pain unable to be relieved by milder painkillers. This is the category of drugs, like OxyCotten and morphine that is among the most likely drugs to be misused. What makes Targiniq stand out is the addition of naloxone, which reverses and blocks the effects of opioid overdose.
This means that Targiniq will block many of the nonmedical, euphoric and morphine-like effects of other opioids. This means it will have virtually no effect on the user when snorted, injected, or smoked. A testing of 601 people with lower back pain, and monitoring of 3,000 users showed that Targiniq continues to be effective at its intended purpose of relieving strong pain, but substantially deters abuse.
Another form of naloxone hydrochloride, Evizo has also been approved as a single-use injection, to be used in home by trained family members or caregivers, that can be used to deal with an opioid overdoes in emergency situations. Both of these drugs are part of the FDA’s Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy, an effort to educate doctors and patients about how to deal with and prevent prescription drug abuse.
A Word of Caution
Targiniq significantly deters, but does not totally prevent misuse, since it can still be taken orally in higher amounts, or by people to whom it was not prescribed. Even when used under medical supervision, Tarniq, like all opioid painkillers, a user can develop dependence on Tarniq, like all opioid painkillers, and overdoses can cause death. It should be used only by prescription, and prescribed only when milder alternatives have proven ineffective in managing pain.
This means using it only to treat chronic and continuous pain, not simply on an as-needed basis. The FDA is still unsure about the drug’s long-term effects, and will continue testing. However, for now, the drug does appear that it can be part of an effective and innovative solution to a rising problem of prescription drug abuse and addiction.