Crowdsourcing as a way to evaluate drug abuse in the community

April 17, 2015

Can the black market predict which abuse-deterrent formulations are most successful?

Drug companies are trying to make pills harder to crush, in order to deter injection and snorting. For a review of abuse deterrent formulations (ADFs), see this recent two part scientific review (part 1 & part 2), or this New York Times article with pictures.

The FDA held a public meeting last October where industry experts revealed new secrets on how the products are made, and are putting together a guidance on how to evaluate whether new drugs are really abuse deterrent, and whether pharma companies get to promote that way. Nabarun Dasgupta of Epidemico is presenting today at a new conference of FDA and industry on what black market street prices can reveal about ADFs.

How to build a better pill

You’ve heard of OxyContin being made harder to crush. Did you know there are more than a dozen other ADFs already on the market? Here’s a partial list of brand name drugs in the US: Suboxone, Vyvanse,  Zohydro, Hysingla ER, OxyContin OP, Opana ER, Xartemis XR, Exalgo, Concerta, Ritalin LA, Nucynta ER, Embeda,Targin(iq), Oxytrex, Oxecta, Quillivant XR, Talwin NX, Amrix. These pills are built on drug delivery “platforms” that are patented by yet other companies who out-license them to the opioid manufacturers (Purdue, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, etc.).

The platforms all vary in how hard it is to get the drug out. Among the most popular are Grünenthal INTAC, Elan Spheroidal Oral Drug Absorption System (SODAS),  Altus Intellitab, Alza OROS (Osmotic [Controlled] Release Oral [Delivery] System, and Dow PolyOx.

What can the black market tell us?

But which of these work best? Can the black market reveal which platform is the hardest to get into? Check out Slide 16 of the presentation below. It looks like there is a clear divide between which platforms work best… OROS looks much tougher to get into than INTAC. 


So, if you were a pharma company, which platform would you choose?

See the complete slides here

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