News from the FDA/CDC

FDA asks drug maker to shelve Opana ER


The Food and Drug Administration has asked Endo Pharmaceuticals to voluntarily remove its opioid pain medication, reformulated Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride), from the market in the United States, citing the potential for its abuse as a concern.

“We are facing an opioid epidemic – a public health crisis, and we must take all necessary steps to reduce the scope of opioid misuse and abuse,” FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, MD, said in a June 8 press release . “We will continue to take regulatory steps when we see situations where an opioid product’s risks outweigh its benefits, not only for its intended patient population but also in regard to its potential for misuse and abuse.”

According to the press release, this marks the first time the FDA has taken steps to remove a currently marketed opioid pain medication from sale because of the public health consequences of abuse. Officials at the agency made the decision after reviewing all available postmarketing data, which demonstrated a significant shift in the route of abuse of Opana ER from nasal to injection following the product’s reformulation. “Injection abuse of reformulated Opana ER has been associated with a serious outbreak of HIV and hepatitis C, as well as cases of a serious blood disorder (thrombotic microangiopathy),” according to the release. “This decision follows a March 2017 FDA advisory committee meeting at which a group of independent experts voted 18-8 that the benefits of reformulated Opana ER no longer outweigh its risks.”

Opana ER was first approved in 2006 for the management of moderate to severe pain when a continuous, around-the-clock opioid analgesic is needed for an extended period of time. It was reformulated in 2012, with the intent of making it “resistant to physical and chemical manipulation for abuse by snorting or injecting,” according to the FDA release.

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