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Carol Eustice

Tramadol May Become Controlled Substance; Not as Safe as Once Believed

By December 23, 2013

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Are you a tramadol user? Many arthritis patients are prescribed tramadol to help control their pain. Tramadol was first marketed in the U.S. in 1995. It was promoted as the safer, non-narcotic, prescription pain reliever -- and most notably -- with less potential for abuse or addiction.

Well, guess what? An article from MedPageToday and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has disclosed more of the backstory that surrounds tramadol. According to the report, recent research shows that tramadol has much greater abuse potential and potential for overdose than what was thought to be the case when it first came on the market. The FDA apparently disregarded a key piece of evidence and decided to put the drug on the market without being placed under the Controlled Substance Act. The Controlled Substance Act places drugs into categories (schedule I through V) based on abuse potential. The FDA decision was based on research for injectable tramadol, disregarding the findings which demonstrated that when taken orally at high doses, tramadol produces opiate-like effects.

Perhaps even more interesting, the FDA asked Ortho-McNeil (the drug company which marketed tramadol) to hire a team of paid consultants to watch for issues of abuse and the need to make it a controlled substance. Didn't happen. Ortho-McNeil didn't want it on the controlled substances list. But now, the Drug Enforcement Agency seems more interested in getting it onto the controlled substance list. In 2005, the DEA received four petitions to do so. Last month, the DEA recommended tramadol become a schedule IV drug.

I might add one caveat that doesn't seem to be mentioned in the article. Statistics are offered that show increased use and abuse of tramadol in recent years. Everyone seems to forget that Darvocet was taken off the market in 2010 and that left most chronic arthritis patients and other chronic pain patients scrambling. Many were offered Vicodin or tramadol, which would account for some of the increased use. Read the full story published December 22, 2013 on MedPageToday.

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December 25, 2013 at 1:43 pm
(1) Ann says:

While still in hospital following knee replacement, I suffered from extreme nausea and vomiting after each dose of Narco, a narcotic painkiller. After my pleading with the in-house pharamacist, it was replaced with lowest dose Tramadol. Within a week, I developed a chin tremor that intensified over a few days. My doctor agreed that I could quit taking the tramadol, and then I took only high doses of Aleve. After four months, the tremor finally disappeared. Tramadol was bad news for me.

December 25, 2013 at 3:15 pm
(2) Peter Williams says:

I have to agree with the previous comment that Tramadol is bad news. I was given Tramadol after some surgery earlier this year and it made my head spin for many hours afterwards. I told the nurse that there was no way I was taking something that made the pain go away by reducing the control I have over my senses. I then got some Codeine which I took for a few more doses. I think part of the issue with using these types of painkillers is that there is a reluctance to tell the patient to “deal with it.” I noticed that older patients who had had knee and hip replacements refused painkillers whereas my age group expected them.

December 25, 2013 at 8:02 pm
(3) Cat says:

Tramadol does absolutely nothing for me when I’m in in extreme pain.

December 25, 2013 at 9:04 pm
(4) PainPatient says:

This would be horrible for me! As someone who is in chronic severe pain from many pain causing illnesses, I take tramadol because my doctor doesn’t believe in narcotics. If tramadol was taken from me, I’d be bed bound from the pain. They have no idea how many people who DON’T abuse drugs this could hurt!

December 26, 2013 at 6:57 pm
(5) Susan says:

Tramadol works very well for me. I have a high pain threshold. But when I need something, Tramadol will take the edge off and then I can function much better. What will we be left with? Aleve does nothing for me and taken daily, it will raise blood pressure. It happened to my daughter. Her doctor told her absolutely no more Aleve. Tylenol and ibuprofin are damaging to the kidneys and liver.

December 26, 2013 at 11:39 pm
(6) Christine says:

Vicodin and Tyl#3 or #4 doesn’t do anything or me except make me nauseated. Useless.

December 27, 2013 at 11:40 am
(7) Sharon Murray says:

I knew tramadol is
a. as addictive as opiods
b. is euphoric
This has been under played by physicians. Many doctors have put me on tramadol and I always made them aware of the factswhen prescribed tramadol. It is data available at the physicisn site “facts and comparisons”this is a prescribing site for professionals but you can get a trial membership for a few weeks. When my sister was prescribed tramadol I cautioned her that it was as dangerous as opiods.

December 27, 2013 at 11:56 am
(8) Sharon Murray says:

I neglected in my comment to note that when I took tramadol after the second dose on the first day I got so sick: nausea, vomiting, headache, shaking, room spinning. I was so sick I could not lift my head from my pillow to even call for help. It was prescribed by my neurologist for my OA, lumbar and cervical spinal symptoms. I also habe fibromyalgia. I was also taking amatrptiline and gabapentin. Which I later found out was a very, very bad combination all affecting seretonin. When I told the doctor and showed him the information that spcifically cautioned on the combination he got really angry with me “whos the doctor here? I always prescribe these together with many patients and they don’t complain!” So I answered with ” Sure they probably died, mysteriously!” So I don’t see him anymore. Beware, not all doctors know what they prescribe. I wouls rather take my chances with morphine and the like that have been taken for over 100 years than the latest and greatest.

January 6, 2014 at 5:50 am
(9) Lisa says:

I was given Tramadol after a car wreck. Not only did it not help my pain, it made me have seizures.

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