The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a new drug which provides relief of moderate to severe acute pain. This is great news for us, because, advanced prostate cancer often brings pain from mets and breaking bones.

This newly approved drug, tapentadol hydrochloride, is delivered as an immediate-release oral tablet. It is a centrally-acting synthetic analgesic that is available in doses of 50 mg, 75 mg, or 100 mg. This means that it will control pain through your entire body; not not just spcifically to one site.

Tapentadol acts in two ways: opioid (narcotic) and non-opioid. It affects the brain and body primarily by activating opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord and gastrointestinal tract. In addition, Tapentadol inhibits the reuptake of the brain chemical norepinephrine, which possibly has an analgesic (pain relieving) effect.

Tapentadol is an opiate. Though considered safe and effective, opiates can lead to dependence, abuse, and addiction. Everyone being treated with opioids should still be carefully monitored. However, my personal opinion is that these concerns are mute when our cancer pain becomes significant.

Tapentadol does have some common side effects, including nausea, dizziness, vomiting, and sleepiness. The labeling for Tapentadol includes warnings about the risk of respiratory depression; addictive depressive effects on the central nervous system when taken with alcohol, other opioids, or illicit drugs; and abuse potential.

Tapentadol is manufactured by Janssen Ortho, LLC, Gurabo, PR.

Joel T Nowak MA, MSW