Study shows dearth of interest in uptake of abuse-deterrent opioids

US doctors propose major pharmaceutical reforms
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Despite gaining regulatory approval, a lack of willingness by insurers to reimburse patients is hindering the uptake of opioid products with abuse-deterrent formulations (ADF).

According to the Tufts Centre for the Study of Drug Development (Tufts CSDD), 10 new opioid products with ADF have been approved in the US. Despite this, a seeming lack of interest by insurers to front the cost for patients is a primary challenge in overall uptake.

96% of all opioid products prescribed in the US in 2015 lacked abuse-deterrent properties, and only four of the 10 opioid products with abuse-deterrent properties thus far approved for sale by the FDA have been launched.

“Developers are confronted with substantial payer reimbursement hurdles with respect to ADF products,” said Joshua P. Cohen, associate professor at Tufts CSDD, who completed an analysis of the state of ADF opioid development and uptake by care providers.

He added: “In addition, lack of regulatory consistency regarding demonstrations needed to support labelling of abuse claims and lack of clarity regarding eligibility for three-year data exclusivity for ADF products is inhibiting their wider use.”

Despite these obstacles, new ADF product development is moving ahead, as more than two dozen applications for new ADF drug products are pending before the FDA, Tufts CSDD said.

The findings – reported in the July/August Tufts CSDD Impact Report – also found that 36% of branded opioids prescribed in 2015 contained abuse-deterrent properties, but only 2% of generic opioids did.

Moreover, drug developers face a special challenge in creating abuse deterrents for oral medications, as pills are the most common means by which pain medicine is administered.

“The US opioid crisis is more pronounced than ever and, unfortunately, seems to be growing, increasing the urgency for ADF opioid products,” said Cohen.

“The FDA has adopted a flexible, adaptive approach to evaluating and labelling abuse-deterrent products, which will help.

“And the sooner developers can demonstrate ADF clinical effectiveness, the more likely payers will step up reimbursements for ADF products.”