Legal liability perspectives on abuse-deterrent opioids in the treatment of chronic pain

David B. Brushwood, Ben A Rich, John J. Coleman, Jennifer Bolen, Winston Wong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Abuse-deterrent opioid analgesic formulations can help reduce the risk of opioid diversion and abuse. Not all opioid analgesics are available as both extended- and immediate-release dosage forms in abuse-deterrent formulations. Clinicians may have to balance the clinical benefit of a product that does not use abuse-deterrent technology versus the regulatory benefit of using a product with this technology. There is the possibility that a health care professional may be held legally liable when a product without abuse-deterrent qualities is used and a person suffers harm that would not have occurred had an abuse-deterrent formulation been provided. This article reviews legal precedents that inform an understanding of the need to reduce malpractice exposure by identifying patients who are at high risk of opioid diversion and/or abuse and considering the use of an abuse-deterrent formulation for these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)333-348
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pain and Palliative Care Pharmacotherapy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2010


  • Abuse-deterrent opioid
  • malpractice liability
  • risk assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine
  • Pharmacology (medical)


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