Science to Play a Key Role in Deterring Abuse of Opioids
The war on drugs isn’t limited to fighting illegal drugs like cocaine and meth. The rise of deaths caused by opioid painkillers and other prescription medications is now responsible for what is commonly known as the prescription drug epidemic.
Pisgah Labs of North Carolina has been working on a solution that will reduce the number of deaths stemming from abuse and addiction. The company has been testing options since 2006 and just recently received a patent for its discovery.
Pisgah has a background in chemistry, aiding it in formulating a new variety of hydrocodone that will take the place of hydrocodone bitartrate, the addictive ingredient commonly found in many prescription painkillers.
Painkillers containing hydrocodone mixed with acetaminophen include the likes of Vicodin, Lortab and Norco. Soon, Pisgah’s new form of hydrocodone will be featured in these medications, thereby reducing the potential for misuse.
The technology Pisgah used to develop its new drug is not limited to hydrocodone. In fact, it can also be used in OxyContin and Adderall, prescription drugs that are also highly abused. The company is working on securing patents for these applications as well.
The reason the new variety of drugs will not be as addictive is because they will be administered differently, such as through mucus tissues in the body.
In order to get high, abusers take the painkillers and combine them with alcohol. Many opiates have a feature that allows for slow release of the active ingredient so it doesn’t overwhelm the body all at once.
Consuming the drugs with alcohol, however, ruins the extended release feature, causing the active ingredient to be dumped into a person’s system all at once.
This yields a fast high but can quickly result in overdose. Pisgah’s new formulation will inhibit the active ingredient from releasing so quickly in the event it is mixed with alcohol.
The development of the new technology represents a significant step in the reduction of opioid painkiller abuse. It will also be a relief for doctors who want to help patients cope with pain safely without risking the dangerous threat of addiction.