What Is Oxymorphone (Opana)?

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Medically Reviewed By: Diana Vo, LMFT

November 15, 2023

Table of Contents

Opioid painkillers like oxymorphone (Opana) are Schedule II controlled substances associated with dangers that include abuse, dependency, and life-threatening overdose. Oxymorphone abuse often leads to addiction in the form of opioid use disorder, a chronic and relapsing condition.

This guide highlights how the FDA considers that the risks of Opana outweigh the possible advantages, prompting the discontinuation of this medication. You can also learn how to connect with oxymorphone addiction treatment near you.

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Oxymorphone vs. Oxycodone

Oxymorphone is an opioid analgesic that is indicated to treat moderate to severe pain. Alongside its known medical benefits, this controlled substance has a strong potential for abuse and addiction. The medication is available in immediate-release and extended-release formulations. Extended-release formulations like Opana are designed for managing intense pain that persists throughout the day. Oxymorphone is also available in an oral solution.

Oxycodone is another prescription opioid painkiller intended for addressing moderate or severe pain in adults. Oxycodone is also available in tablet, capsule, and solution forms. Similar to oxymorphone, it is manufactured in both immediate-release and extended-release varieties. Immediate-release formulations deliver the medication swiftly into the bloodstream, while extended-release versions release the drug gradually over time.

Both oxymorphone and oxycodone are opioid agonists, functioning by diminishing the transmission of pain signals to the brain. Essentially, they reduce pain intensity by altering the brain’s perception of pain.

As opioids, both oxymorphone and oxycodone share similar mechanisms of action and can trigger comparable side effects – more on these below.

Prolonged usage of oxymorphone can lead to a greater likelihood of fever and confusion, while extended use of oxycodone might result in increased fatigue and sleep disturbances.

Exercise caution when using extended-release forms of oxycodone tablets or capsules, as they tend to be more concentrated and should only be employed if immediate-release variants fail to provide sufficient relief. Only utilize extended-release tablets after showing tolerance to opioid medications for seven days or more.

When taking extended-release oxymorphone or oxycodone capsules or tablets, it is vital to have access to naloxone (Narcan), a drug that can help alleviate life-threatening consequences of an oxymorphone or oxycodone overdose. Naloxone works by blocking the effects of opioid medications and mitigating the severe symptoms caused by elevated levels of opioids in the bloodstream.

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Oxymorphone Side Effects

Oxymorphone, while effective in managing pain, can also produce a range of side effects that individuals should be aware of. These side effects may manifest during the course of treatment with the medication. Common side effects of oxymorphone include:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Itching
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach pain
  • Changes in mood
  • Confusion (in cases of prolonged use)
  • Fever (in cases of prolonged use)

Closely monitor any potential side effects and consult with a healthcare provider if any concerns or adverse reactions arise during the course of treatment with oxymorphone.

Tolerance, addiction, and dependence are important concepts to consider in relation to the use of oxymorphone.

  • Tolerance: With prolonged use of oxymorphone, the body may develop  tolerance, leading to the need for higher doses to achieve the same pain-relieving effects. This phenomenon can contribute to an increased risk of adverse effects and potential complications.
  • Dependence: Dependence refers to the body’s adaptation to the presence of oxymorphone, resulting in the manifestation of withdrawal symptoms upon reducing or discontinuing the medication. Sudden cessation or abrupt dose reduction can lead to withdrawal symptoms such as restlessness, muscle aches, anxiety, insomnia, and more severe symptoms in some cases.
  • Addiction: Oxymorphone, like other opioids, has the potential to cause addiction. Prolonged use or misuse of the medication can lead to psychological and physical dependence, accompanied by an overwhelming urge to continue using the drug despite the negative consequences it may pose to health and well-being. Oxymorphone addiction is clinically described as opioid use disorder, a relapsing condition that usually gets worse if untreated.

Use oxymorphone strictly as prescribed by a healthcare professional and be mindful of the signs of tolerance, addiction, and dependence to ensure the safe and effective management of pain. Regular communication with a healthcare provider is vital to address any concerns and adjust the treatment plan accordingly.

FAQs

What is in Opana?

Opana is a discontinued medication that contains oxymorphone in doses from 5mg to 40mg, all in extended-release formulation.

What is oxymorphone?

Oxymorphone is an opioid analgesic that is used to treat pain that does not respond to other medications.

Why was the Opana pill discontinued?

Manufacturer Endo changed the formulation of the extended-release Opana ER pill. The original formulation was withdrawn due to safety concerns. In 2017, the FDA recommended that the reformulated Opana ER be removed from the market.

Opana Lawsuit

Endo has filed for chapter 11 protection in New York as it faces mounting litigation related to the promotion of Opana ER. The company’s CEO, Blaise Coleman, stated that the decision addresses over $8 billion in debt and provides a “pathway to closure” for the lawsuits that have been draining the company’s resources.

Endo also reached a $450 million settlement with 36 states and the District of Columbia to resolve allegations of false marketing. This settlement includes a commitment to support treatment and prevention of opioid use problems over 10 years. Beyond this, Endo has agreed to publicize opioid-related documents and pay for archival expenses, in addition to permanently forgoing opioid marketing.

The bankruptcy filing is just the latest in a series of moves from Endo, which previously settled lawsuits in New York for $50 million, in Texas for $63 million, in Florida for $65 million, and in West Virginia for $26 million. Other opioid manufacturers, such as Purdue Pharma, AbbVie’s Allergan, Teva, and Johnson & Johnson, have also faced significant settlements in the wake of the ongoing U.S. opioid crisis.

The bankruptcy process involves the transfer of Endo’s assets to creditors in exchange for the extinguishment of over $5.8 billion in debts. A $550 million fund will also be established over 10 years to handle opioid claims. This strategy aligns with the approaches taken by other pharmaceutical companies, such as Purdue Pharma and Mallinckrodt, to protect themselves from product liabilities.

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Joseph Gilmore has been in the addiction industry for three years with experience working for facilities all across the country. Connect with Joe on LinkedIn.

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