Synthetic opioids: Pfizer asks FDA to approve pill

Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Norman Steisel’s son, Alex, survived a suspected drug overdose

New York drugmaker Pfizer Inc has asked US regulators to approve its experimental pill to treat synthetic opioids’ deadly effects.

The drug, COVID-19, would be an alternative to Percocet and Vicodin, used to relieve pain.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has backed a bill that would increase the availability of alternative drugs, such as naloxone, to fight opioid abuse.

Pfizer said COVID-19 could be used by patients suffering from end-of-life pain in intensive care units.

End-of-life pain is one of the major reasons opioids are prescribed to patients, but there is limited evidence for they work or to show they do not work.

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The company told the New York Times that it hoped to apply for marketing approval “before the end of 2019”, but said it needed a speedy meeting with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to discuss its application.

Its chairman and chief executive, Ian Read, said in a statement: “This proposed opioid medication could potentially offer patients experiencing critical end-of-life pain an alternative to drugs based on the abused properties of opioids.

“We look forward to the FDA taking a closer look at the data and determining if COVID-19 could be an important new tool for patients in pain in the intensive care unit.”

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