Abuse-Resistant Painkillers to Hit the Market, But Will They Really Work?

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A “painkiller” can be a very dangerous, and, at times, an extremely beneficial medication. It belongs to the opioid family of prescription medication(s). Opiates can have extremely therapeutic effects, in terms of pain management. But, unfortunately, the risk for developing a dependence is high. That dependence can, and often will, develop into a full-blown addiction. The statistics tell the story of the opiate addiction epidemic.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, opioid deaths have quadrupled since 1999. And, the UN World Health Organization has reported that 70,000 opioid deaths occur each year; 16,000 of those deaths occurred in the United States. With statistics like that, it is no wonder that opiate use has become very scrutinized in the past few decades, as overdose rates have steadily been on the rise. Opiate abuse-deterrent drug research and development is a relatively new industry, and is “still evolving.” It is said to be growing in response to our nation’s “public health crisis” (FDA).

Why an Abuse-Resistant Painkiller?

doctor hands giving white pills and glass of water

Abuse-resistant painkillers belong to the opiate family of medications but are engineered with the goal in mind to reduce dependence. They are meant to be non-addictive, and supposedly, do not make users feel a sense of euphoria, or “high.”

Obviously, all prescription pain medication, or “painkillers,” are prescribed by a physician, who is hoping and intending to treat pain. Some people will take the pain medication, as prescribed on the bottle, for the amount of time prescribed by the physician, and move on with their lives. This administration of the medication would be considered “therapeutic.”

The second case involves someone taking the pain medication, not realizing that they were susceptible to developing an addiction, and, subsequently, develop an addiction. The third case could be that someone acquired the medication with no intention of using it in the prescribed manner, but instead,  to abuse, themselves, or to distribute to others.

Unfortunately, a common situation is that people take the medication with no intention to abuse the drug and develop a dependence. It is an all-too-common occurrence. The United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reported that “22 million Americans have misused prescription painkillers of various kinds since 2002.” That is a large number of people. Considering the fact that the U.S. population is at about 316 million. That is a large percentage. While this number does not constitute a majority, it is still a very large sector of the population.

A non-addictive painkiller could possibly be the solution to this problem. A non-addictive painkiller would, by no means, eliminate addiction. Not all addictions are to painkillers. Nor, would a non-addictive painkiller eliminate all addictions and overdoses that are associated with opiate use. But, there are, no doubt, benefits to these drugs.

Firstly, a non-habit-forming painkiller would be extremely helpful in eliminating addictions that originate with a patient taking a medication, not realizing his or her propensity toward addiction. And, secondly, non-addictive painkillers could reduce the likelihood that someone who has chronic pain issues, and who is also an addict, would relapse.

These two factors, alone, are reason enough to see the importance and necessity regarding an abuse-resistant painkiller. When addiction rates go down, overdose deaths decrease in direct proportion to that. The benefits seem to have extensive effects. Perhaps the whole scenario of an abuse-resistant painkiller seems “too good to be true.” How well do these painkillers work, anyway?

How Do Abuse-Resistant Pain Killers Work?



The United States Food and Drug Administration has approved a total of four abuse-resistant painkillers.

Non-addictive painkillers work on different nerve-ending receptors than habit-forming painkillers. Some medications are safeguarded by an interesting feature. For instance, a medication named Hysingla ER, developed by Purdue Pharma, L.P., turns into a “goo” when crushed. So, it is impossible to snort or shoot the drug; this does not make it impossible to become addicted to Hysingla ER, but it may help to reduce deaths caused by intravenous overdose deaths.

The FDA asserts that “the tablet is difficult to crush, break or dissolve, making it tougher for abusers to snort or inject it. “According to WebMd, “The FDA said that newly approved Hysingla ER (hydrocodone bitartrate) is an extended-release tablet to treat pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment that can’t be eased by other pain medications.”

Also, WebMd states that the drug is “not approved for ‘as-needed’ pain relief. “The FDA, states that the “different versions of Hysingla contain 20, 30, 40, 60, 80, 100 and 120 milligrams of hydrocodone to be taken every 24 hours.” Another plus to Hysingla ER is that it does not carry the same “liver toxicity associated with painkillers that contain both hydrocodone and acetaminophen” (WebMD).

Cara Therapeutics is a Connecticut-based pharmaceutical company. Cara Therapeutics recently unveiled their new compound, called CR845. CR845 does not directly enter into the brain, which decreases the chances of getting high. This type of medication also reduces some of the classic opiate side effects, like nausea, seizure, and hallucinations.

Currently, Cara Therapeutics is researching and developing an IV form of CR845, which would mainly be consumed by post-operative patients. The company hopes to eventually make a pill-form to help address the symptoms associated with chronic pain, which would be a revolution in the field of pain management.

Another drug, Targiniq XR, also manufactured by Purdue, was created to replace the highly-addictive drug, Oxycodone. Oxycodone was formerly known as Percocet.

According to WebMD, common signs of painkiller addiction or abuse include:

  1. You think about your medication a lot.
  2. You take different amounts than your doctor prescribed.
  3. You’re “doctor shopping.”
  4. You get painkillers from other sources
  5. You’ve been using painkillers a long time.
  6. You feel angry if someone talks to you about it.
  7. You’re not quite yourself.

If you or a loved one is displaying some of these signs and symptoms, get help immediately. Addiction is a chronic and progressive disease, and if left untreated, can become fatal. The Palm Beach Institute can help you to begin a life that is worth living–one that is not dependent on drugs or alcohol. Contact us at the Palm Beach Institute, today at 855-534-3574 or contact us online.



Staff Writer

The Palm Beach Institute employs a diverse staff of writers that share a common passion for helping those who are struggling with substance abuse find the care they need. With years of experience in the substance abuse treatment industry and decades of experience in writing and research, our team of writers constantly strive to present accurate and helpful information that is easily digestible and encourages people to seek help.

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  • You describe 3 types of pain pill users. People like you seem to think everyone will get better or can be fixed. I have always said that the worst thing about chronic pain is that nobody even family and your dr. really believe how bad it can be. We are just lazy strung out junkies.
    I am pain pill user type 4. My left knee has almost no cartilage. The right one isn’t much better. The last time I had an MRI on my back I had 5 ruptured or bulged disks in my lower and 2 in my mid back.
    Because of a really bad sunburn I got some 20 years ago I get huge open stasis sores on both lower legs. They never heal enough that I can get new knees or back surgery.
    Even the university hospitals that normally take high risk patients will touch me. They won’t even inject effected areas with cortisone be cause they are so afraid of infection.
    Why do I feel like sharing this? I get tired of articles that make it seem as though pain meds are evil and most don’t need them. And the ones that do only need them for a short time or they will become addicted. In the 12 or more years I have needed them I have stopped on purpose 4 times for at least a week. I had no withdraw symptoms at all other than crippling, mind-bending pain. I believe it to be the same for anyone who has chronic pain that never gets below 5 on a 1-10 scale. Addiction happens to the recreational user, not the legit pain patient long or short term.
    The only thing articles like this do is make it harder for the type pain med user not mentioned in your article to find a dr to help us. And there are a lot more of us who fall thru the cracks than you might think. [rant off]

  • Tom O., thank you for saying what I’ve been saying for years. I feel like a criminal when I get my prescriptions filled. Like you, I suffer with severe chronic back pain. I will live with this the rest of my life. At my age, the future is looking long and bleak.

    1. This is getting outrageous, the DEA coming down on Drs that are actually helping us with chronic pain. Their only plan of action is to cut us off cold turkey so we have to deal with the pain that we take the medications for in the first place. They actually “wonder” why there has been a rise in heroin use in the past couple years. I don’t believe for one second that they don’t have a hand in that. I’m not one for conspiracies but if you look at this from a business standpoint there is already a market that must be filled and all they are doing is forcing people to go to illicit drugs just to maintain not to get “high” as they would like everyone to believe. I only see two reasons that they are doing this. One the least Likely but not unheard of they are in on importing these illicit drugs or they think they will catch more people with these drugs and put them on probation so they can collect money. Everything is a business and about Money once people can see this then they will understand.

  • Same here, broken back that needs an operation but here in the UK rather than the NHS pay the 6k for the operation they give me opiates for the pain as they are cheap, but at the same time treat me like a junkie even though they are the dealer that pushed it on me in the 1st instance. Help me please!

  • I agree with the above commentors. I have been on opiates continuously since 2001 after a bad car accident. I have Osteoarthritis in my knees, hands, neck, fingers and back. I have severe back pain from bulges in discs, no fluid in others, and ruptured discs. I had neck surgery on 3 disks – they move your esophagus over, and operate on your disks through your mouth. They used tissue from my hip. They fused C-5, 6&7 & put titanium hardware in. It was the worst pain ever. But, I can hold my head up now. Before the operation, my neck could not support my head. I also have fibromyalgia, carpal tunnel and upper body injury of 25% from my previous occupation before the 3 accidents when I was stopped and hit from behind causing neck and back injuries. The opiates barely touched the pain. They just make it bearable. I was on Vicodin for 10 years, then Morphine, now Oxycodone and Morphine. I have never been addicted. A nurse yelled at me because I called two weeks late for my prescriptions 3 months ago. My doctor understands that at times I use double in the am and then resume my regular prescribed amount on some days. On other days, I may only take one dose of each if I’m not doing anything. I am unreliable and distracted. I also have ADD. I am anti-social. I lost my son, aged 22 to a rare genetic heart syndrome carried by his father that no one knew he had. I lost my sister 6 months later. I had already lost my career to work-related disability. Yes, I am depressed. I went through a three year divorce and I’ve been stalked by my ex for 11 years since the divorce ended. I am married now to a wonderful man – it will be 8 years in the Spring. (I did not realize this sicko was stalking me until recently).i go through periods of sleeping all the time to periods of insomnia. I have often had a full bottle of extra medication of each opiate because I did not need what was prescribed. Other months I needed more than what was prescribed. I do not think about running out or when my next prescription will be. However, when opiates were first prescribed the doctor I was seeing only gave out opiate prescriptions on the 15th of the month for 90 pills. Some months have 31 days. Sometimes 3 pills weren’t enough. I felt like I was turning into a junkie because I was so afraid of running out. When a person is really in terrible pain and the medication just takes the edge off, there is no euphoria. I never experienced euphoria. In the very beginning it made me sleep. After a week it just made life a little bit bearable. I never doctor shopped or tried to get more. The times when I have as much as an extra bottle, it doesn’t make me feel I can take extra – because I don’t experience euphoria. I do feel more secure like in case a disaster occurred, I would have the medication I need. But, that’s it. I would like to stop taking this medication now because of the stigma attached to it. I would rather try medical marijuana and see if I can get by with that. So, there it is – I am now 61 and after 16 years, I am not addicted to opiates, despite taking them everyday for 16 years. Is it because I have real pain? Is it because many people don’t get addicted? I think studies should be done on the people who take opiates and don’t get addicted.

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