Development and impact of prescription opioid abuse deterrent formulation technologies

Drug Alcohol Depend. 2014 May 1:138:1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Feb 16.


Background: Millions of patients are treated with opioid analgesics (OpAs) to relieve pain. Unfortunately, these medications are subject to abuse and/or unintended misuse. Abuse deterrent formulations (ADFs) represent an intervention strategy to decrease abuse/misuse without affecting patient access. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued Draft Guidance "Abuse deterrent opioids, Evaluation and Labeling" and is currently actively pursuing scientific input on this issue.

Methods: The development of ADF technologies was reviewed using peer reviewed journals describing OpA post marketing studies, web sites containing FDA announcements on product approvals and manufacturer product use profiles.

Results: Reviewed is the FDA recent approval of a product label describing the abuse deterrent characteristics of OxyContin(®) (physical barrier formulation), and the FDA determination that studies were insufficient for an Opana(®) (physical barrier) ADF label. Additional reviewed marketed OpAs with ADF technologies include: Suboxone(®) and Embeda(®) (opioid agonist/antagonist combinations), Oxecta(®) (aversion technology), and Nucynta(®) (physical barrier). Reviewed ADF technologies currently in development include: new physical barrier and aversion technologies, an innovative extended release formulation as well as novel polymer-opioid conjugates. As ADF technologies are part of a comprehensive intervention strategy to promote safe OpA use, additional components including governmental, community, and educational initiatives are reviewed.

Conclusions: The outcomes of the recent ADF labeling applications for OxyContin(®) (Tier 3 approval) and Opana(®) (non-approval) suggest that the threshold for ADF labeling will be appropriately high. The presented findings indicate that ADF technologies can be a critical component of a comprehensive strategy to promote the safe and effective use of OpAs.

Keywords: Abuse deterrent formulation; Non-medical use; Opioid analgesic; Pain relief; Unintended misuse.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analgesics, Opioid / administration & dosage*
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical / methods*
  • Drug Labeling
  • Humans
  • Opioid-Related Disorders / prevention & control*
  • Prescription Drugs / administration & dosage*
  • United States
  • United States Food and Drug Administration


  • Analgesics, Opioid
  • Prescription Drugs