The FDA approves the Dsuvia opioid, is 1,000 times stronger than morphine


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The tiny pill, "Dsuvia", will be restricted to use only in healthcare facilities such as hospitals. Critics are worried that they will trigger an already gloomy opioid epidemic.
USA TODAY

A new opioid tablet, which is 1,000 times more potent than morphine and ten times stronger than fentanyl, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration on Friday as a quick alternative to IV painkillers used in hospitals.

Dsuvia painkiller will be restricted to limited use only in healthcare facilities, such as hospitals, surgical centers and emergency rooms, but critics worry that the opioid will fuel an already gloomy opioid epidemic.

Also on Friday, the Anti-Drug Agency issued a report showing that prescription drugs were responsible for most deaths from overdose of any illegal drugs since 2001.

Democratic senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts called on the FDA not to approve Dsuvia last month by saying that "an opioid that is a thousand times more powerful than morphine is a thousand times more likely to be abused and a thousand times more likely to be killed."

For this reason, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a statement that "very tight restrictions" would be imposed on Dsuvia.

Dsuvia will not be available in retail pharmacies or any household use, said Gottlieb. The medicine, which is included in a disposable package, should not be used for more than 72 hours. The drug comes in a tablet that can dissolve under the tongue. The side effects of the powerful drug include extreme fatigue, breathing problems, coma and death.

More: The opioid crisis hits the house. Mine.

Gottlieb said military use of the drug was "carefully considered in this case" as the FDA wants to "make sure our soldiers have access to treatments that meet the unique needs of the battlefield."

More: Drugs kill more Americans than weapons, cars and AIDS. How did we get here?

More: The Senate adopts multi-level legislation to address the country's opioid crisis

The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets

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