Faculty Articles

Assessing Abuse Potential of New Analgesic Medications following Market Release: An Evaluation of Internet Discussion of Tapentadol Abuse

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Pain Medicine



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OBJECTIVE: Research on substance abusers in treatment suggests that tapentadol, a prescription analgesic, may have relatively low abuse potential. Messages posted by recreational drug abusers on online forums were examined for amount of discussion and endorsement for abuse of tapentadol and comparator drugs. METHODS: Internet messages posted between January 1, 2011 and September 30, 2012 on seven drug-abuse web forums were evaluated. Proportions of posts and unique authors discussing tapentadol were compared with eight comparator compounds. Postcontent was coded to compare endorsement for abuse of tapentadol with two comparators, one drug with high desirability for abuse and one with low desirability for abuse. RESULTS: A total of 1,940,121 messages posted during the study period were copied from selected web forums. The proportion of all posts discussing tapentadol (proportion = 0.0003) was significantly lower than any of the comparator compounds (range of odds ratios from 16.6 to 104.3; P < 0.001). The proportion of unique authors was also lower. Posts coded for endorsement (N =  2,117) yielded an endorsement ratio (Ero) of 2.14 for tapentadol, which was significantly lower than the highly desirable for abuse oxymorphone (ERo = 5.08; P = 0.0011) and was as low as tramadol (ERo = 1.66), which has a long-established profile of low abuse and desirability for abuse. CONCLUSIONS: Recreational abusers posting on web forums appear to be less interested in abusing tapentadol when compared with other, selected prescription analgesics based on the amount of discussion (i.e., fewer posts and authors mentioning tapentadol). Endorsement of the product for abuse was also low.



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