Another issue of Name that drug..increase your knowledge
Name That Drug: If it were an automobile, it would be a corvette!
This month’s drug is another one of those substances that owes its existence to serendipity. First experimented with in 1931, the chemical basis of this month’s drug was used as a starting point in the development of a new class of drugs designed to reduce muscle spasm. It was designed by a research chemist who was devoted to finding medicines that reduced the pain and suffering of children who were wheelchair bound by severe spastic conditions. In 1932, Otto Eislib had his drug. Or so he thought. Unfortunately, early experiments with this drug did not bear out its putative anti-spastic value. Like many other research chemicals of that same era, it was put out to pasture. But it was not over yet. Another enterprising researcher by the name of Otto Schaumann resurrected Eislib’s work and took to further examination of the drug. And low and behold, further study revealed that the drug possessed morphine-like qualities as an analgesic. Perhaps the most interesting facet of the drug at that point was that the drug was a synthesized chemical, a drug that was not extracted or refined from opium. With World War II fast approaching, this month’s drug held promise to combatants as an alternative analgesic to opium-based narcotics. It quickly underwent clinical study and evaluation.
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It is quite apparent that this month’s drug is a narcotic analgesic drug. It’s a synthetic opiate to be more precise. And if it were an automobile, it would be a corvette. This descriptor belies the drug’s significant potency and power as an analgesic. Yet at the same time, the drug is speedy; it moves quickly through the central nervous system and the body. A significant clue as to its identity is that the drug’s half-life is three hours; its span of analgesic effects is less than other narcotics. This fact among others led to an early belief that this narcotic was “safer” and less prone to abuse than other drugs of its day. In particular, when compared to morphine, hydromorphone, and heroin, this month’s drug appeared to have fewer drawbacks. But like any narcotic that is an agonist of the mu opiate receptor, and this drug is a potent agonist at that, it poses a significant risk as a drug of abuse.
In fact, this month’s drug has had a rather checkered history as a recreational drug. It is a medication that is almost always diverted or stolen from pharmaceutical stores. It is produced as an oral tablet and as a solution for intramuscular injection. On the street, the drug can be crushed and snorted, or crushed and dissolved in water and then injected intravenously. But as recreational users have learned, the drug is caustic at the point of entry into the body. Bloody noses and ulcerating injection sites are often the leave behinds for this month’s drug. In fact, even medically necessary intramuscular injections of this drug can leave behind painful bumps and lumps in connective tissue. Abusers of the drug exhibit some very tell-tale signs of use. Because of its shorter half life, addicts of this drug are forced to use it more often and at shorter intervals. Addicts quickly realize that surface skin areas needed for injection get used up quickly. In relative short order, unseemly areas of raised, sore skin evidence the fact that an addict is injecting this drug.
As an analgesic, this month’s drug is mostly found in use in hospitals. It is relatively rare to find the drug in an outpatient setting. Despite the drug’s significant potency, it is not commonly found in pain management programs, although sometimes this drug is loaded into “pain pumps.” In those instances, the drug is delivered into spinal fluid by means of an intrathecal catheter; it is not administered intramuscularly. Because of its more frequent utilization in hospitals, it should not be a surprise that medical personnel often become ensnared by this drug. In the 1960s and 1970s, anesthesiologists wrestled with the drug. But with the emergence of the fentanyls in the 1980s, medical abuse and diversion of this drug rapidly tapered.
Called pethidine in many circles, this month’s drug is prescribed and abused worldwide. In the United States it is a Schedule II narcotic. Known for toxic effects caused by the metabolites of this drug, other less onerous drugs are used in its place. In-hospital patients often exhibit unpleasant side effects while being administered this drug. As a result, physicians have a tendency to use the drug intermittently; rarely is the drug used continually over a protracted period of time.
Known more commonly in the United States as meperidine, this drug costs approximately $25 for a 50 milligram pill on the street. In some larger American cities the drug can be purchased for half of that. Oddly enough, unlike most other drugs of its class, this drug has no recognized street name. It’s called by its registered product name.
Thank you MedTox journal for providing this informative “game”