By Heather Abraham

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – The headlines have been startling. A small pill that’s 10 times more powerful than fentanyl and 1,000 times more potent than morphine.

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But, those headlines about Dsuvia are misleading, says Dr. Jack Kabazie.

“On a milligram per milligram basis, it’s 1,000 times more powerful than morphine. But, it’s dosed in micrograms. So 30 micrograms is equivalent to 5 milligrams of IV morphine,” said Dr. Kabazie, division director of Allegheny Health Network’s Pain Medicine.

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(Source: AXELRX)

So what is Dsuvia?

It’s a single dose pill which is placed under the tongue and dissolves quickly, providing pain relief in 15 minutes. It was approved Friday by the Food and Drug Administration in a 10 to 3 vote.

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Many have raised concerns about the potency and the possibility of it reaching the general public.  Dr. Kabazie says there are tight restrictions on its use.

“Keep in mind, this is not going to be in any retail pharmacy. It’s not for at-home use. It will not be dispensed with a prescription. It’s not to be used any longer than 72 hours,” said Dr. Kabazie.

Dr. Kabazie adds that it would be likely used for a small subset of patients.

“It’s a very niche medication, as it was developed. The manufacturer actually worked with the Department of Defense in some aspects of the development,” said Dr. Kabazie. “They can’t take something by mouth for whatever reason. IV access is poor. They can use this medication to give someone pain relief equivalent to 5 milligrams of morphine in 15 minutes.”

Dr. Kabazie says hospitals have committees that review medication and Allegheny Health Network is expected to review Dsuvia in the coming months.

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Dsuvia is expected to be available in first quarter of 2019.

Heather Abraham