Pain Home > Nucynta

Nucynta is a narcotic used to relieve moderate-to-severe short-term pain. It comes in tablet form and is taken every four to six hours. The medication works by binding to certain opioid receptors; it actually behaves similarly to morphine in the body. It also works like certain antidepressants, inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine. Side effects may include vomiting, nausea, and dizziness.

What Is Nucynta?

Nucynta™ (tapentadol) is an opiate pain reliever. It is the first new molecule for pain relief to be developed within the past 25 years. It is approved to treat moderate-to-severe short-term pain in adults.
This medication is a narcotic and is a "controlled substance" in the United States.
(Click Nucynta Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

This medication is made by PriCara, a division of Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

How Does Nucynta Work?

Nucynta is classified as a "centrally acting opioid analgesic." This means that it works in the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), acts much like morphine in the body, and relieves pain. Much like morphine, Nucynta binds to certain opioid receptors in the body known as μ ("mu") receptors.
Nucynta also works a little like some antidepressant medications by inhibiting the reuptake of the neurotransmitter norepinephrine. Norepinephrine is one of several chemicals used to send messages from one nerve cell to another. As a message travels down a nerve, it causes the end of the cell to release norepinephrine.
The norepinephrine enters the gap between the first nerve cell and the one next to it. When enough reaches the second nerve cell, it activates receptors on the cell and the message continues on its way. The first cell then quickly absorbs any norepinephrine that remains in the gap between cells; this is called "reuptake." By inhibiting the reuptake of norepinephrine, Nucynta essentially increases its activity.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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