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Pain Research and Treatment
Volume 2012, Article ID 282981, 10 pages
Review Article

Designing Opioids That Deter Abuse

1Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, School of Pharmacy, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA
2Department of Medicine, School of Medicine, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA
3Department of Anesthesiology, School of Medicine, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA
4Kirax Corporation, Inc., Bonita Springs, FL 34134, USA
5NEMA Research Inc., 840 111th Avenue North, Naples, FL 34108, USA

Received 8 May 2012; Revised 7 August 2012; Accepted 21 August 2012

Academic Editor: Steven D. Passik

Copyright © 2012 Robert B. Raffa et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Prescription opioid formulations designed to resist or deter abuse are an important step in reducing opioid abuse. In creating these new formulations, the paradigm of drug development target should be introduced. Biological targets relating to the nature of addiction may pose insurmountable hurdles based on our current knowledge and technology, but products that use behavioral targets seem logical and feasible. The population of opioid abusers is large and diverse so behavioral targets are more challenging than they appear at first glance. Furthermore, we need to find ways to correlate behavioral observations of drug liking to actual use and abuse patterns. This may involve revisiting some pharmacodynamic concepts in light of drug effect rather than peak concentration. In this paper we present several new opioid analgesic agents designed to resist or deter abuse using physical barriers, the inclusion of an opioid agonist or antagonist, an aversive agent, and a prodrug formulation. Further, this paper also provides insight into the challenges facing drug discovery in this field. Designing and screening for opioids intended to resist or deter abuse is an important step to meet the public health challenge of burgeoning prescription opioid abuse.