What a relief: acetaminophen approved as injection pain reliever Ofirmev

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Patients who are undergoing surgery will be relieved to learn that the FDA has approved Cadence Pharmaceuticals’ Ofirmev, an intravenous form of the pain reliever acetaminophen commonly prescribed along with more powerful but potentially dangerous opiates for post-surgical pain management. Acute pain — temporary discomfort that sets in rapidly, such as post-operative pain — often requires at least two painkillers for effective relief. Cadence’s clinical trials showed that Ofirmev improved pain relief and reduced the need for opioid use compared to a placebo. The drug also appeared to alleviate fever symptoms within 15 minutes.

ACSH’s Dr. Elizabeth Whelan is surprised that an intravenous form of acetaminophen wasn’t developed sooner. “What if the patient is passed out or is unable to swallow a pill? And shouldn’t there be a similar delivery system for aspirin, which is often a recommended first step when dealing with an acute heart attack?”

ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross believes Ofirmev “definitely seems to be a serious advance because except in the case of serious overdosage over the course of a couple of days, generally speaking acetaminophen is very safe. Of course, overdose of oral acetaminophen-containing OTC drugs is common, and can be very dangerous. It has very severe and irreversible toxicity on the liver and kidney.”

ACSH’s Dr. Josh Bloom adds that “because a lot of people have problems with morphine or other opiates post-surgery, this injection pain reliever, which might enable physicians to cut the opiate dose in half, could greatly benefit these patients.”