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The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new version of a popular but highly criticized painkiller that is designed to deter abuse. The new formulation of oxycodone also contains naloxone, a drug that stops the action of the opioids in the painkiller. “Targiniq ER has properties that are expected to deter, but not totally prevent, abuse of the drug by snorting and injection,” FDA said in a statement. “When crushed and snorted, or crushed, dissolved and injected, the naloxone in Targiniq ER blocks the euphoric effects of oxycodone, making it less liked by abusers than oxycodone alone.” It’s not foolproof; people can abuse the drug simply by swallowing the whole pill, FDA notes. But then it releases slowly, instead of all at once.
The FDA has been criticized for its approval of painkillers that can be abused — most lately, one called Zohydro. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 17,000 people die each year from opiate overdoses, more than quadruple the number of a decade ago.