'

DrugWonks on Twitter

DrugWonks on Facebook

CMPI Videos


Video Montage of Third Annual Odyssey Awards Gala Featuring Governor Mitch Daniels, Montel Williams, Dr. Paul Offit and CMPI president Peter Pitts


Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels


Montel Williams, Emmy Award-Winning Talk Show Host


Paul Offit, M.D., Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, for Leadership in Transformational Medicine


CMPI president Peter J. Pitts


CMPI Web Video: "Science or Celebrity"

Social Networks



Please Follow the Drugwonks Blog on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube & RSS




Add This Blog to my Technorati Favorites
Political Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

Tabloid Medicine

Please Check out the latest book by
Dr. Robert Goldberg Ph.D.
"Tabloid Medicine"

Check Out CMPI's Book

Physician Disempowerment:
A Transatlantic Malaise

Edited By: Peter J. Pitts
Download the E-Book Version
Here

CMPI Events

Donate

CMPI Reports

Blog Roll

Alliance for Patient Access Alternative Health Practice
AHRP

Better Health
BigGovHealth
Biotech Blog
BrandweekNRX
CA Medicine man
Cafe Pharma
Campaign for Modern Medicines
Carlat Psychiatry Blog
Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look
Conservative's Forum

Club For Growth
CNEhealth.org

Diabetes Mine
Disruptive Women
Doctors For Patient Care
Dr. Gov
Drug Channels
DTC Perspectives
eDrugSearch
Envisioning 2.0
EyeOnFDA
FDA Law Blog
Fierce Pharma
fightingdiseases.org
Fresh Air Fund
Furious Seasons
Gooznews
Gel Health News
Hands Off My Health
Health Business Blog
Health Care BS
Health Care for All
Healthy Skepticism
Hooked: Ethics, Medicine, and Pharma
Hugh Hewitt
IgniteBlog
In the Pipeline
In Vivo
Instapundit
Internet Drug News
Jaz'd Healthcare
Jaz'd Pharmaceutical Industry
Jim Edwards' NRx
Kaus Files
KevinMD
Laffer Health Care Report
Little Green Footballs
Med Buzz
Media Research Center
Medrants
More than Medicine
National Review
Neuroethics & Law
Newsbusters
Nurses For Reform
Nurses For Reform Blog
Opinion Journal
Orange Book
PAL
Peter Rost
Pharm Aid
Pharma Blog Review
Pharma Blogsphere
Pharma Marketing Blog
Pharmablogger
Pharmacology Corner
Pharmagossip
Pharmamotion
Pharmalot
Pharmaceutical Business Review
Piper Report
Polipundit
Powerline
Prescription for a Cure
Public Plan Facts
Quackwatch
Real Clear Politics
Remedyhealthcare

Shark Report
Shearlings Got Plowed
StateHouseCall.org
Taking Back America
Terra Sigillata
The Cycle
The Catalyst

The Lonely Conservative
TortsProf
Town Hall
Washington Monthly
World of DTC Marketing
WSJ Health Blog
 


Who "lost" Abuse Deterrence?

2014-03-17 |

Google “opioid abuse deterrence” and you’ll find a lot of hits from lawyers and elected officials. What you won’t find is a lot of expert thinking from the FDA.

That needs to change.

FDA Commissioner Hamburg’s recent comments (and, in particular, her testimony in front of the Senate HELP Committee) hopefully represent a more aggressive stance by the agency. That’s good. But there needs to be more. The FDA must be the leading voice on the issue of abuse deterrence and the safe use of opioids.

At present, politicians and pundits (not to mention trial lawyers) own the conversation. They're the ones talking about it. They're the ones the media goes to when they write about it. Have a look at a sampling of the press coverage surrounding Zohydro and see who's quoted and what they're saying.

The struggle over control of the opioid abuse deterrence story is, shall say, not going the right way for the agency.

Peggy got it right when she testified that (per Zohydro), “We recognize that this is a powerful drug, but we also believe that if appropriately used, it serves an important and unique niche with respect to pain medication and it meets the standards for safety and efficacy.”

In short – not all opioids are the same and not all patients respond to all opioids in the same way. Further, it’s important to remember that “safe” doesn’t mean 100% safe. Never has. Never will. Not for any medicine. It’s always about the benefit/risk balance.

This is not a new topic. Americans woke up the morning after the Vioxx recall and were amazed to discover that drugs have risks. Good lord. Who let that happen! Avandia, in that respect, was Son of Vioxx. And, like any sequel, new actors were brought in to spice up the story. Now it’s about opioids.

Relative safety is an important conversation. It’s an opportunity for the FDA to help educate the public about the safe use of drugs.

(The foundational proposition of the FDA’s “Safe Use” initiative is that the way to make a drug “safer” is to better educate prescriber, dispenser, and user about the product.) And nowhere is “safe use” a more important issue than opioids.

Dr. Hamburg’s testimony continued, “It doesn’t do any good to label something as abuse deterrent if it isn’t actually abuse deterrent, and right now, unfortunately, the technology is poor.”

As with safety, “abuse deterrent” doesn’t mean that an opioid can’t be abused. “AD” doesn’t mean “100% abuse deterrent” just as “safe” doesn’t mean 100% safe.

Who does that and how it is done is where the rubber meets the road. After all, as the saying goes, everything you read in the paper is true except for those things you know about personally. Such is the case for the drug safety imbroglio currently surrounding opioids.

The FDA must take the lead. And that means more than finessing the label. It means working with CME providers to develop better curricula. It means more targeted REMS. It means enhanced and validated reporting tools for post-marketing surveillance. It means better tools for using that data for better social science in developing tools that can assist prescribers in determining which patients are likely to abuse. “Abuse deterrence” isn’t just a formulation question – it’s a systems question.

Unfortunately complex systems make for bad media coverage, while simplistic, dramatic demagoguing makes for sexier headlines. And when Bloomberg reporter Drew Armstrong notes that “FDA pain drug czar Bob Rappaport has already said the agency would consider jerking Zohydro from the market if an abuse-resistant version become available,” it reinforces the erroneous concept of “100% abuse deterrence.” Dr. Rappaport certainly knows better. The general public does not.

There’s an apt Japanese proverb that bears repeating, “Don’t fix the blame. Fix the problem.” Unfortunately, the recent bashing of opioids (and the FDA’s regulatory decision-making and oversight thereof) isn’t helping. It's time for the grown-ups to step forward and take charge of the debate on drug safety.