Reviewed by Michael Gill, B. Sc.
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Most Recent Dsuvia Clinical Trials

What are Dsuvia Clinical Trials?

Dsuvia is the brand name for sufentanil tablets, synthetic opioids given to hospitalized patients for short-term relief of severe pain. Available by prescription only, the FDA approved it in 2018 for patients who could not use or are unaffected by non-opioid pain medication. Made by AcelRx Pharmaceuticals, Dsuvia is 10 times more effective than fentanyl and 500 times stronger than morphine, making it the most potent opioid painkiller currently available for humans.

Dsuvia is categorized as a controlled medication because it is highly addictive and can lead to abuse and dependency. Therefore its use is monitored closely by healthcare providers. Possible side effects of Dsuvia include headaches, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and low blood pressure. If administered incorrectly, Dsuvia can lead to respiratory depression, where breathing slows down to the extent that it results in respiratory arrest.

Why Is Dsuvia Being Studied In Clinical Trials?

A tablet form of sufentanil was developed and fast-tracked through FDA approval for military use in the field, where intravenous pain relief was challenging. This decision was greatly criticized by many who believed making such an addictive drug available was a threat to public health.

Statistical data shows that prescription opioid-related overdose deaths continue to rise steadily, from 14,139 (2019) to 16,416 (2020). This data is one reason healthcare professionals are reluctant to introduce new prescription opioids to the market.

Many researchers have voiced hesitation regarding the use of Dsuvia, given its life-threatening side effects. More research is required to compare its effectiveness and safety with other prescription opioids currently available.

How Does Dsuvia Treatment Work?

Dsuvia can only be given under the supervision of a healthcare professional qualified to administer it and trained in airway management. Patients are not allowed to handle the medication; tablets are given by the trained provider directly in the mouth, under the tongue.

A typical dose is 30 mcg (one tablet) given every hour, with a maximum of 12 tablets given in 24 hours. Dsuvia is not given for more than 72 hours, and the medication is stopped once patients are discharged from the hospital.

If a patient begins to show signs of overdose, such as extremely slow breathing (respiratory depression), healthcare providers must reverse the effects by administering naloxone. Sold under the brand name Narcan, naloxone is an accepted antidote for all opioid-based drugs. It can increase breathing as well as eliminate the effects of Dsuvia.

What Are Some of the Breakthrough Clinical Trials Involving Dsuvia?

2022: A clinical trial sponsored by the Cleveland Clinic studies the effects of 30 mcg of sufentanil given to patients after knee surgery with a control group given 50 mcg of fentanyl. The outcomes of this trial are to measure the total amount of fentanyl used during hospitalization as well as the pain score and postoperative nausea and subsequent vomiting.

2022: A clinical trial was done in collaboration with the US Department of Defense to research the effectiveness of Dsuvia in relieving pain in injured patients with moderate to severe pain. Results are measured against a control group that is given standard pain management.

About The Author

Michael Gill preview

Michael Gill - B. Sc.

First Published: October 25th, 2021

Last Reviewed: October 13th, 2022

Michael Gill holds a Bachelors of Science in Integrated Science and Mathematics from McMaster University. During his degree he devoted considerable time modeling the pharmacodynamics of promising drug candidates. Since then, he has leveraged this knowledge of the investigational new drug ecosystem to help his father navigate clinical trials for multiple myeloma, an experience which prompted him to co-found Power Life Sciences: a company that helps patients access randomized controlled trials.

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