The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the first extended-release, single-entity hydrocodone pain medication with anti-abuse properties. Hysingla ER, produced by Purdue Pharma L.P., meets the FDA requirements for abuse-deterrent opioids. As any drug lawsuit attorney can attest, opioid abuse is a major problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), fatalities linked to prescription painkiller abuse have risen to 17,000 per year in America, and the FDA is under pressure to take action. The administration approved a similar extended-release opioid called Zohydro last year, but the move was met with criticism because Zohydro lacks anti-abuse safeguards. Law enforcement officials and anti-addiction groups felt the drug should have been reformulated before its approval. Making Drug Abuse a Bigger Challenge In contrast with its competitor, Hyslinga ER has features that are expected to reduce the potential for abuse. The tablets are hard to break, dissolve and crush. Because they form a viscous, thick gel upon contact with fluid, it is difficult to prepare Hyslinga ER tablets for injection. While its chemical and physical traits make abusing Hysingla ER a challenge, they do not totally prevent it. Whether by deliberate misuse or accident, taking too much of the drug can cause a potentially fatal overdose. Opioid Therapy Basics Opioids are synthetic narcotics that produce opiate-like effects in the body and brain but are not derived from opium. Hydrocodone, a derivative of codeine, is the most commonly prescribed and abused opioid in America. The drug relieves pain by changing the way the brain and central nervous system respond to it. Traditionally, hydrocodone has been included in combination formulas such as Vicodin and Lorcet that also contain non-narcotic pain relievers like acetaminophen. Doctors prescribe combination drugs to treat pain from a wide variety of sources including migraines, arthritis, surgery and dental procedures. Some medical experts argue that because of their addictive properties, opioid-containing drugs should be reserved for patients in extreme, intractable pain such as those receiving end-of-life care or treatment for advanced cancer. Appropriate Use of Hysingla ER Unlike its popular predecessors, Hysingla ER contains a single narcotic component in a higher concentration. The FDA approves the drug for management of daily, long-term, around-the-clock pain control and in situations where other drugs fail to provide adequate relief. It is also appropriate for patients who cannot tolerate alternatives. Given the smaller but still significant risk of addiction, Hysingla ER should not be used on an as-needed basis or for short-term, minor pain relief. Drug Facts and Side Effects Hysingla ER's generic name is hydrocodone bitartrate. Available strengths range from 20 to 120 milligrams to be taken every 24 hours. Patients who have never taken opioid medications before should not be given more than 60 milligrams per day. Compared to immediate-release combination drugs, Hysingla ER contains larger amounts of hydrocodone, but the range of dosage strengths is comparable to that of other opioids. The drug's safety was tested in a clinical trial involving 905 people with chronic lower back pain. Additional laboratory studies supported the effectiveness of Hysingla ER's abuse-deterrent features. The most commonly observed side effects include nausea, fatigue, constipation, dizziness, headache, drowsiness and upper respiratory infections. Will Hysingla ER Really Help Deter Opioid Abuse? Time will tell whether the new drug will reduce opioid addiction and overdose fatalities, or become another familiar name to the experienced pharmaceutical lawsuit lawyer or class action lawsuit attorney. Post-marketing studies to evaluate the effectiveness of Hysingla ER's anti-abuse features and the drug's overall impact on community drug abuse risks are part of the FDA's requirements. Hysingla ER is also part of the ER/LA Opioid Analgesics Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS), which provides education and resources to help healthcare professionals prescribe and handle opioid drugs safely and responsibly.