FDA Approves New Abuse-Deterrent Pain Medication

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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In response to the current opioid epidemic, the FDA has been encouraging drug companies to create abuse-deterrent pain medications. These medications have properties that make it harder, or less rewarding, for a person to inject or snort them, and are typically resistant to crush or extraction. Some abuse-deterrent pain medications that you may have heard of include Xtampza ER (oxycodone) and Hysingla ER (hydrocodone), and now we have another to add to the list! The FDA recently approved Arymo ER (morphine), an extended-release tablet for the treatment of pain, and it is now available in pharmacies.

What is Arymo ER indicated for?

Arymo ER is indicated for the treatment of pain severe enough to require daily, long-term opioid treatment. Arymo ER is specifically indicated in patients where alternative treatment options are inadequate.

How is Arymo ER to be taken?

Arymo ER is available as an extended-release tablet in the strengths of 15 mg, 30 mg, and 60 mg. Your doctor will decide which dose of Arymo ER is right for you. Tablets should be taken one at a time with enough water to ensure complete swallowing.

Common side effects include constipation, nausea or sedation. Be sure to speak with your doctor if you experience any of these for a prolonged period of time.

Are there any other products similar to Arymo ER?

Other extended-release morphine products available include MS Contin (morphine ER), Kadian (morphine ER) and Avinza (morphine). However, unlike Arymo ER, none of these products are abuse-deterring.

Arymo is most similar to Embeda (morphine/naltrexone), the first abuse-deterrent extended release morphine. However, there are advantages to Arymo ER. Specifically, Arymo ER has the new proprietary Guardian Technology, a physical and chemical barrier approach to abuse deterrence without the use of an opioid antagonist. This technology means that Arymo ER tablets are more difficult to manipulate for the purpose of misuse and abuse, as it has increased resistance to cutting, crushing or grinding.

How does the FDA encourage abuse-deterrent pain medications?

Expanding access to abuse-deterrent medications is one part of the FDA’s opioid action plan. This plan is a set of concrete steps aimed at reducing the impact of opioid abuse on American families. The FDA believes that once less expensive generic abuse-deterrent formulations are available, prescribers will be more likely to consider them for their patient’s pain reduction.

How can I save on Arymo ER?

Manufacturer Egalet has created the My Arymo ER Patients Savings program to help commercially insured patients save on their medication. Eligible patients can pay as little as $0 for their first fill, and $10 for subsequent fills. For more information about this program, see the manufacturer’s website here.

For more information on this approval, you can also read the manufacturer’s press announcement here.

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