Thursday, February 02, 2006

Capsaicin as a Possible Drug Abuse Deterrent

Harvard Medical School’s Professor Clifford Woolf has proposed a radical way to combat drug abuse. He suggests using capsaicin to deter the abuse of certain extended-release drugs such as OxyContin and Ritalin.

These morphine-based drugs, when taken as prescribed, release their opioids over time. But when crushed and snorted, swallowed or injected intravenously, they produce an intense high that is addictive.

Woolf argues that adding capsaicin to the drug capsules is safe. If the capsules are swallowed whole, as prescribed, the patient would suffer no ill effects from the added capsaicin. But if it is crushed, anyone snorting or swallowing it would suffer from the exposed irritant.

In an interview with the Harvard University Gazette, Woolf said "imagine snorting an extract of 50 jalapeno peppers and you get the idea."

To date, the professor’s proposal is still in the preliminary stages of development and the additive is yet to enter the production stage.

(Source: Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org)

12 Comments:

Blogger deena said...

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9:02 PM  
Blogger WCC Admin said...

This poor kid needs a thesis, leave him be.
That said, it's rubbish as anyone who has had hot mexican salsa may know.
Daily use of capsaicin would leave both ends weeping.

6:25 PM  
Blogger Sunshine said...

Ritalin is not derived from morphine. It's an amphetamine.

6:50 PM  
Blogger J.M. said...

This is a great idea, although it would severely affect the pharmaceutical industries' profits. There are many health related benefits associated with hot-pepper derived supplements. Win-Win?

6:53 PM  
Blogger Mauro said...

This is a very, very, very bad idea. Some people have trouble swallowing pills and have to crush them. Would you have them not be able to use pills?

8:04 PM  
Blogger Ken Simpson said...

And if pills were doctored in this way, I guarantee an industry would pop up to produce the undoctored variety on the black market.

8:37 PM  
Blogger lexi said...

In response to Mauro: These pills shouldn't be crushed anyway. If you're taking something like Adderall or Ritalin to treat ADHD and you crush the pill, you'll get a surge of stimulants that will wear off quickly, which is not the desired effect. These pills work by slowly releasing the drug over a long period of time. If a patient can't swallow pills, a doctor is unlikely to prescribe an extended release pill in the first place.

As for opiates, there are liquid forms available for patients who can't swallow pills.

9:08 PM  
Blogger Future Thought said...

@Mario: It's not the crushing that would cause the pain, its where it's inserted that would bring the pain (i.e. the nose or the anus)

10:18 PM  
Blogger Eh said...

@lexi,

That is actually not true. I have been alternately prescribed instant and extended release Ritalin, Adderal and Vyvance. Because I have difficulty swallowing pills, my psychiatrist has always given me the okay to consume them in powder form, dissolved in my morning drink. The effect is virtually identical to taking it in uncrushed pill form.

Either way, the Capsaicin idea is an interesting proposal. Let's see where it goes.

10:55 PM  
Blogger J Haehn said...

I am severely allergic to capsaicin! This is a horrible idea.

3:08 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

@Eh if you are crushing the pills you are ruining the extended release coating to get the pill to your lower intestine. You are just getting the surge at the start 100% of the time. There are no exceptions. Anything else you would notice after is the placebo effect. Instant release pills have no coating on the outside to make them last longer so you can crush them. So you're actually wrong. Its scientific fact on how it hits the bloodstream your pysch. prescribing it the way it should not be does not change fact.

5:23 AM  
Blogger thehorrorgirl said...

1. People who are allergic are going to suffer? This is dumb.

2. Capsaicin is a very strong chemical. Like for me, eating something with even a sprinkle of cayenne gives me stomach ache, nausea, heartburn, vomiting, diarrhea, or all of the above.

3. The people who DO take them for the stimulant or sedating effect would probably turn to crack or heroin... which would defeat the purpose of this whole proposal (to reduce drug abuse).

4. The company who does this would lose a lot of sales due to both the drug abusers and the legitimate pain patients/ADD patients switching brands.

5. I think personally that it would be a waste of money to produce this. It would no doubt cost more, and the companies would be losing money so really who is this supposed to benefit?

4:54 AM  

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