BACKGROUND: Opioids are increasingly prescribed for chronic cancer and noncancer pain, and misuse, abuse, and diversion have risen dramatically. Formulations are being developed with the intent to curtail abuse through physical barriers that resist alteration, inclusion of excipients that antagonize opioid effects when altered, and other technologies. OBJECTIVE: To examine various new drug formulations designed to curtail opioid abuse, their stages of development, their technologies, and the population targeted. METHODS: The discussion encompasses formulations currently undergoing clinical trials in North America. CONCLUSION: Emerging opioid formulations may prove useful to minimizing prescription opioid abuse, but the magnitude of their clinical utility and societal impact will be unknown until epidemiological studies can be conducted. Realistic expectations for what the new formulations can achieve are encouraged.
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