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Art Caplan on Boston Public Radio | Nov. 8, 2018

FDA Approves Drug 10 Times More Powerful Than Fentanyl

New Opioid Approved
This undated image provided by AcelRx Pharmaceuticals shows the dispenser and a tablet for the company's medication Dsuvia. On Friday, Nov. 2. 2018, U.S. regulators announced the approval of the fast-acting, super-potent opioid tablet as an alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals.
Craig Sherod/AP
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Art Caplan on Boston Public Radio | Nov. 8, 2018

The FDA approved a new drug 10 times more powerful than fentanyl last week called Dsuvia. Use of the drug has been restricted to hospitals, but Art Caplan, director of the division of medical ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center, told Boston Public Radio that the use of this potent painkiller will likely cause more overdoses and weaken the fight against the opioid epidemic.

The Center for Disease Control estimates that there were 72,000 drug overdoses in the United States in 2017. This number can be attributed to the potency and high usage of opioids, according to the CDC. Caplan says this number will rise if Dsuvia is used, calling the FDA’s decision to approve it “crazy.”

“We are awful at restricting drugs. What drugs have ever been … successfully restricted in the history of the United States? Even prohibition didn’t restrict alcohol. This won’t be [restricted] either. Somebody will figure out how to make it synthetically and start brewing it up someplace,” Caplan said.

"It is not something that the world needs," he added. "The existing powerful drugs we have do the job.”

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