The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new treatment using opioid painkiller medicine that is one thousand times as strong as morphine and five to ten times as strong as fentanyl.
The treatment, called Dsuvia, is a pill containing 30 micrograms of a synthetic opioid called sufentanil, which was approved in 1984 for use in injections. Dsuvia will not be legally available outside of a hospital setting. The FDA published a long statement on their decision to approve the drug in the midst of an opioid crisis.
According to Healthline, Pamela Palmer co-founded the company that created Dsuvia, to address the issue of doctors administering doses of painkillers that were too high. Because the drug is given in tablet form to dissolve under a patient’s tongue, Ms Palmer said it reduced the risk of a doctor over-administering an intravenous drug and accidentally causing their death.
The new treatment makes it easier to take opioid painkillers, and the decision to approve it is a controversial one, as opioids are known for being highly addictive and dangerous.
Data suggests that opioids killed nearly 49,000 Americans in 2017, whereas gun violence killed fewer than 39,000. (Most gun violence deaths are suicides.) The US Department of Health and Human Services has declared the opioid epidemic a National Emergency.