May 8, 2013
Abuse-Deterrent Pseudoephedrine Products Becoming More Widely Available

Palantine, ILThe latest weapons in the fight against illegal methamphetamine production are becoming more widely available to pharmacies.

A new next-generation pseudoephedrine with abuse-deterrent technology is now available from top wholesalers, and the first chain drugstore has agreed to stock it.

Nexafed, pseudoephedrine hydrochloride, is a 30-mg immediate-release pseudoephedrine product that combines nasal-congestion relief with technology that disrupts the conversion of pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine. It is marketed by Acura Pharmaceuticals, Inc. of Palatine, Ilinois.

The product came on the market late last year after demonstrating bioequivalence in clinical studies when compared to the leading national brand decongestant product.

Now, Kerr Drug, a North Carolina-based chain with 75 locations, has agreed to stock it, with availability this spring. In addition, the manufacturer has reached distribution agreements with the largest national drug wholesalers.

“We anticipated early interest in Nexafed from independent pharmacies but it is rewarding that forward-looking drug chains like Kerr Drug are stepping up to make a difference in the communities in which they operate,” said Robert B. Jones, president and chief executive officer of Acura Pharmaceuticals.

Nexafed combines compounds to provide nasal-congestion relief with a polymer matrix that disrupts the conversion of pseudoephedrine into methamphetamine. Specifically, the technology forms a thick gel when the tablets are dissolved in solvents typically used in the pseudoephedrine extraction or methamphetamine production processes, trapping the pseudoephedrine or converted methamphetamine to prevent its isolation or purification.

Another product, Zephrex-DM, from Westport Pharmaceuticals of St. Louis, also markets itself as a tamper-resistant, pseudoephedrine-based decongestant. It was launched in Missouri and is just becoming available in some other areas.

The Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) notes that, while federal and most state laws seek to prevent retail diversion of pseudoephedrine and combination products that contain pseudoephedrine through purchase limits and by keeping the products behind the pharmacy counter, the effectiveness of those measures is waning. Methamphetamine laboratory incidents nationwide, including labs, dumpsites, and associated equipment, increased from 6,095 incidents in 2007 to11,239 incidents in 2010, according to the ONDCP.

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