Opioid crisis spurs sometimes-deadly abuse of popular diarrhea medicine - ABC News
The opioid crisis has taken what the FDA calls “many new and troubling turns,” and and this is one of them. Opioid addicts are buying a popular diarrhea medicine, loperamide, sold under the brand name Imodium — to get high or as a way to taper off off opioids.
The FDA is taking steps to change the packaging of loperamide to help deter abuse of this drug. It’s safe at approved doses but when taken at 100 times the recommended amount, as some addicts do, it can be deadly, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said in a recent article for the agency.
"The drug acts locally, inside the gut, to treat the symptoms of diarrhea. But when loperamide is abused and taken at extremely high doses, some of it can cross the gut lining, giving users an opioid like ‘high,’” Gottlieb said.
PHOTO: A package of Imodium Instants diarrhea tablets are pictured in this undated file photo.Martin Lee/REX/Shutterstock
A package of Imodium Instants diarrhea tablets are pictured in this undated file photo.
Some opioid addicts are also taking large amounts of loperamide as a bridge to help them gradually withdraw from opioids or to treat symptoms of withdrawal, which include diarrhea. The medicine has been dubbed the “poor man’s methadone.”