Addressing the Opioid Epidemic Banner

The United States is experiencing

The Role of Opioids

When pain is severe and cannot be effectively managed through other approaches, opioids may be appropriate for certain patients when prescribed by a healthcare professional. Opioids are a class of strong prescription pain relievers that include codeine, morphine, oxycodone, hydrocodone and fentanyl.

Opioids are available in both immediate-release (IR) and extended-release (ER) formulations. IR formulations are generally used to treat transient pain types, such as acute (e.g., pain that occurs post-surgery) or breakthrough pain (i.e., severe pain that appears while a patient is already medicated with a long-acting painkiller). ER opioids are generally used when daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment is required.2

Million opioid Prescriptions

207 million opioid prescriptions

were written in 2013,

up from around 76 million in 1991.3

The Role of Opioids

What You Should Know About Opioids Including Misuse, Abuse and Addiction

Opioids carry a significant risk for misuse, abuse and addiction. Anyone who uses a prescription opioid is at risk of misusing, abusing, or becoming addicted to the opioid. Abuse is defined as the intentional, nontherapeutic use of a drug product or substance, even once, to achieve a desirable psychological or physiological effect.4 Abuse is not the same as misuse, which refers to the intentional therapeutic use of a drug product in an inappropriate way and specifically excludes the definition of abuse.5

Addiction is commonly defined as a chronic, relapsing disease that is characterized by compulsive drug-seeking and use, despite harmful consequences.6 Over time, higher doses may be needed to get the same effect, and withdrawal symptoms may occur when cutting back or abruptly stopping the opioid.7

Opioid prescription rates have dramatically increased over the last 20 years in the US, contributing to opioid misuse and abuse. The patient prescribed the opioid is not always the person misusing or abusing the medication; it could be others who live in the home, friends or even visitors.3

Opioids also carry other serious risks beyond misuse, abuse and addiction. Opioids can produce significant side effects, including serious, life-threatening or fatal respiratory depression. Prolonged use of an opioid during pregnancy can result in neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Accidental ingestion of even one dose can result in a fatal overdose. Potential drug interactions should also be carefully monitored. For instance, taking an opioid with other opioid medicines, benzodiazepines, alcohol or other central nervous system depressants can cause severe drowsiness, decreased awareness, breathing problems, coma and death. It is important to assess the risks versus benefits for each individual opioid and for each specific patient.8

Working Toward a Solution

The challenge facing the healthcare community, policy makers and the general public is finding the balance between the benefits of effective pain relief and the risks associated with opioid abuse. It is also important to consider other serious risks opioids carry beyond misuse, abuse and addiction, such as significant side effects. From government initiatives to innovation in medical technology, there are a number of efforts underway to promote responsible pain management.

Based on the 2015 National Survey

Based on the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, among adult respondents reporting misuse of prescription opioids in 2015, 59.9%

used them without a prescription, 22.2% used them in greater amounts than directed on their prescription, 14.6% used them more often than directed and 13.1% used them longer than directed.*9

*Misuse was defined as "in any way that a doctor did not direct you to use them, including: 1) use without a prescription of your own; 2) use in greater amounts, more often or longer than you were told to take them; or 3) use in any other way a doctor did not direct you to take them.

Our Commitments in Pain Care

Our Commitments in Pain Care

At Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., we are dedicated to bringing innovative medicines to patients who need relief from their pain, and we are committed to being part of the solution to prescription drug abuse.

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