Zubsolv, a menthol flavored pill that dissolves under the tongue, has been approved for the treatment of opioid addiction for patients in the U.S. Seventy-five percent of all drug overdoses from prescription medication has occurred from abuse of opioid drugs such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, fentanyl, methadone, and codeine, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Shockingly, since 2003, opioid drugs have caused more deaths from overdoses than cocaine and heroin combined. There are 17,000 deaths from opioid pain relievers in the U.S. every year.
The medication, made by Orexo AB, a Swedish drugmaker, combines the drugs buprenorphine and naloxone. The drug competes with Subutex and Suboxone to help patients beat addiction to painkillers. The benefit of the new medication is that less of the drug is needed for the same effect. The time it takes for the pill to dissolve under the tongue has been increased in this version of the drug, and patients said that they preferred the menthol flavor.
A study done on preference for Zubsolv showed that 80 percent of patients preferred Zubsolv over the competitor treatment.
Opioid addiction and abuse in prescription medications have increased to the point that Oxycontin had to be reformulated so it could not be crushed and liquified for injection use. The new formulation of the drug turns a crushed tablet into a gel that is impossible to heat up and use intravenously.
"Orexo has developed Zubsolv as a novel sublingual therapy meeting the needs of millions of patients that suffers from opioid dependence to offer them a new choice of treatment. Zubsolv has in previous studies showed a high acceptability compared to the leading treatment modalities in the market," said Nikolaj Sørensen, president and CEO of Orexo AB.
Opioid dependence costs the economy more than $55 billion a year, $25 billion of which is spent on healthcare treatment. With opioid addiction on the rise because of abuse of prescription and illegal drugs, sadly, the market for this type of medication is set to increase by 50 percent in the next year. Just about five percent of Americans are addicted to opioids and only one-quarter of them receive proper treatment.
Another treatment using the same drug was rejected by the FDA in March because the regulatory agency needed more proof that it worked. Titan Pharmaceuticals' Probuphine is a long-acting version of Suboxone that is implanted under the skin, and would increase adherence to a medication regimen because a patient would not need to remember to take pills.
Zubsolv is set to launch in the U.S. in September.