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J Pain Palliat Care Pharmacother. 2010 Dec;24(4):333-48. doi: 10.3109/15360288.2010.524979.

Legal liability perspectives on abuse-deterrent opioids in the treatment of chronic pain.

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  • 1College of Pharmacy, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610-0496, USA.


Abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic formulations can help reduce the risk of opioid diversion and abuse. Not all opioid analgesics are available as both extended- and immediate-release dosage forms in abuse-deterrent formulations. Clinicians may have to balance the clinical benefit of a product that does not use abuse-deterrent technology versus the regulatory benefit of using a product with this technology. There is the possibility that a health care professional may be held legally liable when a product without abuse-deterrent qualities is used and a person suffers harm that would not have occurred had an abuse-deterrent formulation been provided. This article reviews legal precedents that inform an understanding of the need to reduce malpractice exposure by identifying patients who are at high risk of opioid diversion and/or abuse and considering the use of an abuse-deterrent formulation for these patients.

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