Could Opana Be Reformulated to Slow Abuse?

By Max Resnik

March 7, 2012 Updated Mar 7, 2012 at 6:31 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) – The common denominator in a number of Fort Wayne pharmacy robberies is the painkiller Opana, and now there is discussion that the medication could be reformulated to cut down on potential abuse.

Drug manufacturers of the painkiller oxycontin reformulated the pill to cut down on abuse, and Parkview Hospital’s Clinical Pharmacy Coordinator Sarah Pfaehler says the same steps could be taken to ensure that Opana abuse is limited.

Pfaehler says abusers of Opana crush the painkiller into powder form allowing the powder to be heated and injected, smoked or snorted. When oxycontin was reformulated, according to Pfaehler, the “guts” of the pill became chunky and gummy, which greatly decreased the opportunity for an abuser to inject, smoke or snort it.

“The original formulation-- when you crushed it-- the coating on the tablet was removed very easily and the guts of the tablet turned into a very find powder. When it was reformulated, the coating became much easier to break up into small pieces, and the inside of the tablet now becomes a gummy, chunky mess instead of a fine powder.”

Pfaehler says the effectiveness in smaller doses did not change in oxycontin’s case but larger doses did seem less effective.

“In the lower doses, the benefit really doesn't change the effect, but when you start seeing patients that need over 100 milligrams per dose of oxycontin, that formulation did reduce the effectiveness.”

When the Opana reformulation might occur is still not known.

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