Big pharma profits off pain

Dsuvia. That is the trade name of the latest high-powered opioid that may soon appear on the market. Its scientific name is sufentanil, and it’s an analogue of the infamous, fatal opioid fentanyl. It’s approximately 5 to 10 times stronger than fentanyl and 1000 times stronger than morphine. It’s given sublingually, takes 15 minutes to start working and provides pain relief for approximately 3 to 4 hours. It was approved Oct. 12 by the Food and Drug Administration in a 10 to 3 vote.

Dsuvia, like other fentanyl products on the market, was intended to treat excruciating, unbearable pain. It is intended for people who don’t respond to normal pain medications. Other fentanyl products, such as Subsys, were intended to treat the excruciating pain of cancer, yet were diverted from their purpose and given to people who didn’t actually need them. Although this product is designed to be a single-use medicine, there’s still the risk of diversion and abuse. The advocacy group Public Citizen told the Washington Post, “[I]f approved, Dsuvia will be abused and start killing people as soon as it hits the market.” (, Nov. 2)

This irresponsible action on the part of both the pharmaceutical company AcelRx and the FDA will inevitably be the cause of many deaths, as sufentanil could easily become a cutting product in heroin and other drugs or knowingly abused. Public health officials already have concerns that this product will be diverted.

There have been tens of thousands of deaths from opioids in the last year, and many more in 2018, with fentanyl involved in many of them. The addition of Dsuvia to the list of abused drugs will only pour fuel on that fire. FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb acknowledged that the critics of Dsuvia were worried about the abuse potential of the drug.

But he claimed that the FDA had to judge the drug on its own merits and how it fits into the entire picture of drug addiction, but still approved it anyway. The FDA even invoked the military, saying it’s a delivery device that is a priority for the military.

The FDA had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Department of Defense to expedite medical products that could be useful to the DOD. This memorandum is probably the reason why the drug was approved.

Communists and other progressive peoples must put pressure on AcelRx not to bring this drug to market. To voice your opposition, write to [email protected].

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