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FDA Approves Nucynta ER

Nucynta ER (Tapentadol Extended-Release Tablets) Receives FDA Approval for the Management of Moderate to Severe Chronic Pain

Raritan, N.J., August 26, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Nucynta ER, an oral analgesic taken twice daily, for the management of moderate to severe chronic pain in adults when a continuous, around-the-clock opioid analgesic is needed for an extended period of time.

Although the exact prevalence is unknown, information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Pain Foundation suggests that more than 42 million Americans age 20 and over suffer from chronic pain. Chronic pain is the most common cause of long-term disability, and almost one-third of all Americans will experience severe chronic pain at some point in their lives. Yet despite the treatments available, additional treatment options still are needed to help patients manage their pain appropriately and effectively, according to research published by the American Pain Society.

“In clinical trials, Nucynta ER demonstrated proven efficacy for treating moderate to severe chronic pain,” said Paul Chang, M.D., Vice President, Medical Affairs, Internal Medicine, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “We are pleased with the FDA’s decision to approve Nucynta ER as it represents an important new option to help people with chronic pain.”

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C. and Grünenthal GmbH, a privately-owned pharmaceutical company based in Aachen, Germany, conducted the double-blind, randomized, active- and/or placebo-controlled phase 3 studies that evaluated the efficacy and safety of Nucynta ER for the treatment of moderate to severe chronic low back pain and painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Additionally, safety also was evaluated in more than 1,100 patients with moderate to severe chronic pain over a one-year period. The findings demonstrate efficacy and safety, a favorable tolerability profile and favorable discontinuation rates.

“Chronic pain is difficult to manage, and even with the treatments available today, it can be a challenge to balance pain relief with a patient’s ability to tolerate the medicine,” said Sunil J. Panchal, M.D., President, National Institute of Pain.* “People with chronic pain will continue to need additional options, so an approval like this is welcome news for this community and the people who suffer from this often debilitating condition.”

To support the appropriate and effective management of chronic pain, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. believes it is also essential to support educational programs about the safe and responsible use of pain medicines and the prevention of inappropriate use.

Since 2008, the company has supported educational programs that reach a range of audiences, including patients, physicians, caregivers, parents, teens and educators. These include: Prescribe Responsibly for physicians seeking information on the appropriate prescribing of opioid pain medications; the Let’s Talk Pain Coalition to help enhance communication between patients with pain, caregivers and physicians; and Smart Moves, Smart Choices to increase awareness among educators, parents and teens about the serious problem of teen prescription drug abuse in the U.S.

To help ensure the risks of Nucynta ER are communicated accurately, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has developed a Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategy (REMS) for the medication, in collaboration with the FDA. This REMS, which is similar to those developed for other medicines in this category, educates prescribers about the potential for abuse, misuse, overdose and addiction from exposure to Nucynta ER. To supplement the REMS, the company also utilizes surveillance methodologies to monitor for inappropriate use of its products.

About Tapentadol, Nucynta ER and Nucynta

Tapentadol is a centrally-acting synthetic analgesic. The tapentadol molecule is classified as Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act.

Nucynta ER (tapentadol extended-release tablets) represents the ongoing commitment of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C. to bring new and innovative products to patients and physicians for the treatment and management of pain.

Nucynta ER is an oral analgesic indicated for the management of moderate to severe chronic pain in adults when a continuous, around-the-clock opioid analgesic is needed for an extended period of time. It is taken twice daily and available in 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, 200 mg and 250 mg strengths.

Nucynta (tapentadol immediate-release tablets) was approved by the FDA on November 20, 2008, for the relief of moderate to severe acute pain in patients 18 years of age or older. It is available in 50 mg, 75 mg, and 100 mg strengths.

Both Nucynta and Nucynta ER are available by prescription only.

Outside the United States, tapentadol is marketed by Janssen Inc. in Canada; Grünenthal GmbH discovered tapentadol and markets immediate- and extended-release formulations of tapentadol (PALEXIA) in various countries in Europe.

Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research & Development, L.L.C. and Janssen Pharmaceutical KK, Japan, are developing tapentadol in Japan. In addition, Janssen Pharmaceutical companies have rights to develop and market immediate- and extended-release formulations of tapentadol in select European countries and certain countries in Latin America, the Asia-Pacific region, Africa and the Middle East.

Important Safety Information for Nucynta ER (tapentadol extended release)


Potential for Abuse

Nucynta ER contains tapentadol, a mu-opioid agonist and a Schedule II controlled substance with an abuse liability similar to other opioid analgesics.

Nucynta ER can be abused in a manner similar to other opioid agonists, legal or illicit. These risks should be considered when prescribing or dispensing Nucynta ER in situations where the physician or pharmacist is concerned about an increased risk of misuse, abuse, or diversion. Schedule II opioid substances, which include hydromorphone, morphine, oxycodone, fentanyl, oxymorphone, and methadone, have the highest potential for abuse and risk of fatal overdose due to respiratory depression.

Proper Patient Selection

Nucynta ER is an extended-release formulation of tapentadol indicated for the management of moderate to severe chronic pain in adults when a continuous, around-the-clock opioid analgesic is needed for an extended period of time.

Limitations of Use

Nucynta ER is not intended for use as an as-needed analgesic.

Nucynta ER is not intended for the management of acute or postoperative pain.

Nucynta ER tablets are to be swallowed whole and are not to be split, broken, chewed, dissolved, or crushed. Taking split, broken, chewed, dissolved, or crushed Nucynta ER tablets could lead to rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose of tapentadol.

Patients must not consume alcoholic beverages, or prescription or nonprescription medications containing alcohol. Co-ingestion of alcohol with Nucynta ER may result in a potentially fatal overdose of tapentadol.


•Nucynta ER is contraindicated in patients with significant respiratory depression, acute or severe bronchial asthma or hypercapnia in unmonitored settings or in the absence of resuscitative equipment.
•Nucynta ER is contraindicated in any patient who has or is suspected of having a paralytic ileus.
•Nucynta ER is contraindicated in patients who are receiving monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) or who have taken them within the last 14 days due to potential additive effects on norepinephrine levels, which may result in adverse cardiovascular events.
•Nucynta ER is contraindicated in patients with a known hypersensitivity to the active substance, tapentadol, or any component of the product. Angioedema has been reported in association with use of tapentadol.

Warnings and Precautions

•Nucynta ER tablets are to be swallowed whole and are not to be split, broken, chewed, dissolved, or crushed. Taking split, broken, chewed, crushed, or dissolved Nucynta ER tablets leads to the rapid release and absorption of a potentially fatal dose of tapentadol.
•Nucynta ER tablets must be kept in a secure place out of the reach of children. Accidental consumption of Nucynta ER, especially in children, can result in a fatal overdose of tapentadol.
•Respiratory depression is the primary risk of mu-opioid agonists. Respiratory depression occurs more frequently in elderly or debilitated patients and in those suffering from conditions accompanied by hypoxia, hypercapnia, or upper airway obstruction, in whom even moderate therapeutic doses may significantly decrease pulmonary ventilation.
•Use Nucynta ER with caution in patients with conditions accompanied by hypoxia, hypercapnia, or decreased respiratory reserve, such as: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or cor pulmonale, severe obesity, sleep apnea syndrome, myxedema, kyphoscoliosis, central nervous system (CNS) depression, or coma. In such patients, even usual therapeutic doses of Nucynta ER may increase airway resistance and decrease respiratory drive to the point of apnea. Alternative non–mu-opioid agonist analgesics should be considered, and Nucynta ER should be employed only under careful medical supervision at the lowest effective dose in such patients. If respiratory depression occurs, it should be treated as any mu-opioid agonist-induced respiratory depression.
•Patients receiving other opioid agonist analgesics, general anesthetics, phenothiazines, other tranquilizers, sedatives, hypnotics, centrally acting muscle relaxants, or other CNS depressants (including alcohol) concomitantly with Nucynta ER may exhibit additive CNS depression. Interactive effects resulting in respiratory depression, hypotension, profound sedation, coma, or death may result if these drugs are taken in combination with Nucynta ER. When such combined therapy is contemplated, a dose reduction of one or both agents should be considered.
•Opioid analgesics can raise cerebrospinal fluid pressure as a result of respiratory depression with carbon dioxide retention. Therefore, Nucynta ER should not be used in patients who may be susceptible to the effects of raised cerebrospinal fluid pressure, such as those with evidence of head injury and increased intracranial pressure. Opioid analgesics may obscure the clinical course of patients with head injury due to effects on pupillary response and consciousness. Nucynta ER should be used with caution in patients with head injury, intracranial lesions, or other sources of preexisting increased intracranial pressure.
•Tapentadol is a mu-opioid agonist and is a Schedule II controlled substance. Such drugs are sought by drug abusers and people with addiction disorders. Diversion of Schedule II products is an act subject to criminal penalty.
•Patients should be assessed for their clinical risks for opioid abuse or addiction prior to being prescribed opioids.
•Nucynta ER can be abused in a manner similar to other opioid agonists, legal or illicit. This should be considered when prescribing or dispensing Nucynta ER in situations where the physician or pharmacist is concerned about an increased risk of misuse and abuse. Concerns about abuse and addiction should not prevent the proper management of pain. However, all patients treated with mu-opioid agonists require careful monitoring for signs of abuse and addiction, since use of mu-opioid agonist analgesic products carries the risk of addiction even under appropriate medical use.
•Drug abusers may attempt to abuse Nucynta ER by crushing, chewing, snorting, or injecting the product. These practices may result in the uncontrolled delivery of Nucynta ER and pose a significant risk to the abuser that could result in overdose and death.
•Nucynta ER may cause severe hypotension. Patients at higher risk of hypotension include those with hypovolemia or those taking concurrent products that compromise vasomotor tone (eg, phenothiazines, general anesthetics).
•Patients should be cautioned that Nucynta ER may impair the mental and/or physical abilities required for the performance of potentially hazardous tasks such as driving a car or operating machinery. This is to be expected, especially at the beginning of treatment, at any change of dosage, as well as in combination with alcohol or tranquilizers.
•Nucynta ER may be expected to have additive effects when used in conjunction with alcohol, other opioids, or illicit drugs that cause CNS depression, because respiratory depression, hypotension, hypertension, and profound sedation, coma, or death may result.
•Nucynta ER has not been evaluated in patients with a predisposition to a seizure disorder, and such patients were excluded from clinical studies. As with other opioids, Nucynta ER should be prescribed with care in patients with a history of a seizure disorder or any condition that would put the patient at risk of seizures.
•Cases of life-threatening serotonin syndrome have been reported with the concurrent use of tapentadol and serotonergic drugs. Serotonergic drugs comprise selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), triptans, drugs that affect the serotonergic neurotransmitter system (eg, mirtazapine, trazodone, and tramadol), and drugs that impair metabolism of serotonin (including MAOIs). This may occur within the recommended dose. Serotonin syndrome may include mental-status changes (eg, agitation, hallucinations, coma), autonomic instability (eg, tachycardia, labile blood pressure, hyperthermia), neuromuscular aberrations (eg, hyperreflexia, incoordination) and/or gastrointestinal symptoms (eg, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea), and can be fatal.
•Withdrawal symptoms may occur if Nucynta ER is discontinued abruptly. These symptoms may include: anxiety, sweating, insomnia, rigors, pain, nausea, tremors, diarrhea, upper respiratory symptoms, piloerection, and rarely, hallucinations. Withdrawal symptoms may be reduced by tapering Nucynta ER.
•A study with the immediate-release formulation of tapentadol in subjects with hepatic impairment showed higher serum concentrations of tapentadol than in those with normal hepatic function. Tapentadol should be used with caution in patients with moderate hepatic impairment.
•Nucynta ER has not been studied in patients with severe hepatic impairment, and use in this population is not recommended.
•Like other drugs with mu-opioid agonist activity, Nucynta ER may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi and should be used with caution in patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis.
•Nucynta ER should be used with caution in the following conditions: adrenocortical insufficiency (eg, Addison’s disease); delirium tremens; myxedema or hypothyroidism; prostatic hypertrophy or urethral stricture; and toxic psychosis.
•Pregnancy Category C. There are no adequate and well-controlled studies of Nucynta ER in pregnant women. Nucynta ER should be used during pregnancy ONLY if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus.

Adverse Reactions

•The most common (≥10%) adverse reactions were nausea, constipation, headache, dizziness, and somnolence.

About Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is dedicated to addressing and resolving the major unmet medical needs of our time. Driven by our commitment to patients, healthcare professionals, and caregivers, we strive to develop sustainable and integrated healthcare solutions by working in partnership with all stakeholders on the basis of trust and transparency. Our daily work is guided by meeting goals of excellence in quality, innovation, safety, and efficacy in order to advance patient care.

For more information on Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., visit us at, or follow us on Twitter at

* Dr. Panchal is a paid consultant to Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. However, he was not compensated for his comments to media related to the approval of Nucynta ER.

For more information on Nucynta ER, please contact:

Jeff Christensen
Tel: (908) 927-3581
Mobile: (908) 938-4828 Bill Foster
Tel: (908) 704-4404
Mobile: (908) 392-6057
Louise Mehrotra
Tel: (732) 524-6491 Stan Panasewicz
Tel: (732) 524-2524


Posted: August 2011

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