Big Pharma Is Recruiting Recreational Users to Test New Addiction-Deterring Meds

By Brent McCluskey 08/05/15

Some are concerned that the unorthodox method could turn occasional users into addicts.

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Recreational drug users have become the target audience for major pharmaceutical companies looking to test a new generation of addiction-deterring medications.

David Crow of The Financial Times reported on the testing process and explained how the trials would be conducted.

It starts by finding willing participants, most of whom are recruited through word of mouth. The criteria are very specific and participants are required to recreationally use, but must take a series of tests to ensure they are not addicted.

“You have to have been a recreational drug user, but you cannot be addicted or dependent,” said Crow. “You then come onto these trials. They last anywhere between sort of three days and 30 days. And you basically are asked to abuse the old opioid, the sort of originator product that is fundamentally very easy to abuse, the new abuse-deterrent product, and then a placebo. You’re not told what they are.”

After the participants consume the various drugs, they then score them using a drug-liking scale. In this instance, the pharmaceutical companies are looking for a lower score that closely matches that of the placebo.

If the addiction-deterring medications prove successful they could drastically reduce the likelihood of abuse via snorting and injecting, though users could still abuse the drugs by orally consuming more than the recommended dose.

“And so these pills have things like very hard coatings,” said Crow. “They have a gumming agent that makes them harder to dissolve. But they don’t solve the problem of abusing these pills orally. You can still take more of them than you might otherwise be meant to.”

The potential benefits of the addiction-deterring medications are vast, but many are concerned by the researchers’ methods and worry that the unorthodox testing procedure could turn an occasional user into a full-blown addict.

“But there are some addiction experts who think that this is not a foolproof system and that the line between abuse and addiction can often be very blurred,” said Crow. “And so some of these people might not be addicted today, but you don’t know that they are not going to become addicted further down the line.”

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Brent McCluskey is a Social Media Editor at International Business Times as well as a Jedi with Sith tendencies.  He is also a reader of books, slayer of dragons, and level 80 mage.

“Yeah, I have a broad skill set. If I had to pick between being a Divergent or a wizard, I'd pick a wizard.”  His wizardness can be found on Twitter and Linkedin.