Exalgo is designed to help relieve long-term pain. This prescription medication is only taken once a day, as it is specially designed to release the medication over a long period. It is only approved for people who are at least 18 years old. At this time, there are no off-label uses for Exalgo.
What Is Exalgo Used For?Exalgo™ (hydromorphone ER) is a prescription medication approved to treat pain. It is a strong narcotic painkiller approved only for use when continuous, around-the-clock use of a potent opioid medication is necessary for an extended period (more than a few days). Only people who are accustomed to taking significant amounts of opioids ("opioid-tolerant" individuals) should take Exalgo.
Long-acting opioid products, including Exalgo, are typically used to replace short-acting opioids. Often, people are started on the short-acting drugs first. Once it becomes clear that long-term pain control is necessary, long-acting products are usually preferred. However, many people will still need to have a short-acting medication on hand to deal with "breakthrough" pain.
Exalgo is meant to be used consistently every day. It is not approved for unscheduled, "as needed" use. Long-acting opioids like this one are often used to treat cancer pain or other types of chronic pain.
Because this medication contains hydromorphone, it can be used (or rather, abused) inappropriately (see Exalgo Abuse).
How Does Exalgo Work?Exalgo tablets are specially designed to release hydromorphone over an extended period. As a result, instead of taking short-acting hydromorphone (Dilaudid®) several times a day, you can take Exalgo just once a day.
Hydromorphone is an opioid narcotic medication that is chemically related to morphine. It binds to opioid receptors throughout the body and produces several different effects. These include but are not limited to:
- Pain relief
- Slowing of the digestive tract
- Cough suppression
- Release of histamine (which often causes itching)
- Unusual, unpleasant feelings (dysphoria) or unusual, pleasant feelings (euphoria)
- Decreased breathing (slow or shallow breathing)
- Certain changes in the circulatory system
- Physical dependence.