Panels: Risk Outweighs Benefit for New Opioid Type

March 15, 2017 -- There are more risks than benefits associated with a new version of the opioid painkiller Opana reformulated to reduce the risk of abuse, according to two U.S. Food and Drug Administration panels.

The drug was changed to a crush-resistant form in order to deter people from snorting it. But the new extended-release version (Opana ER) is now being injected, which has led to multiple deaths, USA Today reported.

The two FDA panels voted 18-8 that the new version of the drug presents more risks than benefits. The FDA will now decide whether to act on the panels' advice, and possible actions could include label changes, prescription restrictions, or a national ban.

Opana ER is a form of the opioid oxymorphone.

When injected, oxymorphone is 10 times more potent than morphine, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, executive director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told USA Today.

"This characteristic makes the drug especially desirable and especially dangerous to opioid-addicted injection drug users," he said.

Calling Opana ER "abuse deterrent is misleading because making opioids hard to crush does not deter abuse," Kolodny told USA Today.

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