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New pain drug hits US market

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A new pain-relief tablet has been approved by the US drugs watchdog, the FDA, it has been announced.

Tapentadol hydrochloride is an immediate-release centrally acting synthetic analgesic to treat moderate to severe acute pain.

Acute pain is a symptom of many medical conditions and can affect a person’s general quality of life. In the past, opioids have been considered safe and effective in selected patients but can cause dependence, abuse and addiction. All patients treated with opioids require careful monitoring by their healthcare professional for signs of abuse.

Tapentadol acts as a narcotic by activating opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, it may also have an analgesic effect by inhibiting the uptake of the brain chemical norepinephrine.

Dr John Jenkins, director of the office of new drugs in the Food and Drug Administration’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said: “This approval offers healthcare professionals an additional choice for treating moderate to severe acute pain.”

The side-effects from tapentadol are those expected from most opioids: nausea; dizziness; vomiting; sleepiness; and some risk of respiratory depression.

Copyright © Press Association 2008

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