The opioid crisis is stronger than ever. Just last year in the United States, there were 72,000 drug overdose deaths, and over 49,000 of those people died of opioid overdoses. Despite a bill that was signed by President Trump to help tens of thousands battling opioid addictions, the FDA has approved a new opioid which is one of, if not the most, powerful opioid ever to be produced.
The drug, which is called Dsuvia, is the tablet form of sufentanil, a synthetic opioid that has been used since the 1980s. It is 10 times stronger than fentanyl, a parent drug that has often been used in hospitals. Fentanyl has been illegally produced in different ways, which has led to tens of thousands of overdose deaths in recent years.
Even though the FDA’s advisory committee approved the drug in a 10 to 3 vote, the panel’s chairman, Dr. Raeford Brown, wrote a letter to officials that expressed deep concern about allowing the drug to be used by the public.
In the letter, Dr. Brown predicted that the new opioid will lead to abuse and death within a few months of availability on the market. The letter questioned if the FDA would succeed in the enforcement of restrictions on the drug if it were to hit the market.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the FDA commissioner, gave the drug final approval and released a statement that defends the decision, stating that Dsuvia will only be allowed for use in hospitals and other medical settings. He also stated that the drug is ideal for serious situations and that more soldiers wounded in the battlefield would have died without the strong painkiller.
Now it is up to hospitals and the FDA to prevent this opioid from hitting the market. If they fail, it could be very bad news for addicts and families.