A pain medication that was challenged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2017 continues to be prescribed in various forms. Unfortunately, oxymorphone also continues to be misused and abused. Part of the class of drugs known as opioids, which have contributed to serious problems throughout Florida, oxymorphone is the generic name for Opana. What is oxymorphone? Is Opana addictive? What precautions are needed when this drug is prescribed?
What Are Opioids?
An opioid is a type of medication that can help with pain management. The drug binds to and activates receptors on certain cells on the brain and spinal cord, as well as other organs, which are involved in the feelings of pleasure and pain. The opioid attaches to the receptor, blocking pain signals sent from the brain. It then releases large amounts of dopamine, which can, in turn, reinforce the act of taking the medication, which can then cause the user to want to repeat the dosage.
What is Oxymorphone?
When pain cannot be controlled by other medications, a physician may prescribe an opioid known as oxymorphone. This drug is in a class of medications known as opiate or narcotic analgesics. The medication works by changing the way the body responds to the pain. While oxymorphone, marketed as Opana, can help an individual manage debilitating pain, it also can have potentially negative consequences even when taken as prescribed.
Patients who are prescribed this medication are advised that drinking alcohol or taking a medication that contains alcohol can increase the risk of experiencing a serious, life-threatening side effect. Likewise, taking illegal drugs while using oxymorphone can also have devastating results. Even when taken as directed, oxymorphone can cause serious breathing problems, particularly during the first 72 hours of treatment.
Is Opana Addictive?
Like any opioid, Opana can be highly addictive. Again, even when the medication is taken as prescribed, prolonged use can make it habit-forming. Patients who have a family history of substance abuse or who are experiencing a mental illness may have an increased risk of Opana abuse and addiction.
The risk of overdose is also a serious concern for individuals taking Opana. The medication has the potential for abuse and for a fatal overdose involving respiratory failure. Risks for the patient, including possible overdose and death, are increased with the misuse of the oxymorphone tablets. Crushing, snorting, chewing, or injecting the dissolved medication poses a serious risk for the user.
Opana ER Removed
At the request of the FDA in June 2017, the manufacturer of Opana ER (extended release), Endo Pharmaceuticals, removed the product from the market as the risks of taking it outweighed its benefits. The medication was removed voluntarily in July 2017.
The FDA Commissioner at the time, Scott Gottlieb, MD, said, “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. 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.”
Even though Opana ER was removed from the market by Endo Pharmaceuticals, oxymorphone is still available by prescription. Opana ER is also manufactured by Impax, now owned by Amneal Pharmaceuticals, Inc. A suit has been filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) alleging that a 2017 agreement between Endo and Impax, made after Endo removed their product from the market, violated the antitrust laws by eliminating competition in the market for oxymorphone ER.
Opioids in Florida
Opioids such as oxymorphone can be beneficial to those suffering from physical pain, but they also have the serious potential for abuse and addiction. The opioid crisis that was already a significant issue throughout the state of Florida has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. Project Opioid projected that drug overdoses have killed 55 Floridians a day in 2020. That number is up from 35 a day last year and 33 a day two years ago. Many of those overdose deaths involve opioids.
The project’s study found a 43% spike in drug overdose deaths statewide during the first eight months of the year in 2020, as compared with the same time period in 2019. Floridians between the ages of 25 and 44 accounted for over half of the overdose deaths, even though they only represent a fourth of the overall population in the state.
Florida Department of Health (FDH) reports show that, in 2019, there were:
- 4,294 opioid overdose deaths
- 5,577 drug overdose deaths
- 14,884 suspected non-fatal opioid-involved overdose
- 38,927 suspected non-fatal all drug overdose
- 16,802 opioid-involved non-fatal overdose emergency department visits
- 7,711 opioid-involved non-fatal overdose hospitalizations.
Get Help for Your Addiction at South Miami Recovery
Overcoming an addiction to opioids is not easy. At South Miami Recovery, we are here to help you get started on your recovery. You deserve to enjoy true freedom from active substance dependency, so you can live a healthier life. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we want you to stay safe and healthy, so we offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth services to help you get the treatment you need now. To learn more and to sign up for telehealth substance abuse services, contact us today. Call South Miami Recovery at 305.661.0055.