The new drug, which would be marketed as Dsuvia, is a sublingual pill form of sufentanil, a synthetic opioid that is used for IV and epidural anesthesia. This new form of the drug is designed for fast relief from acute pain, and can start working in as little as 15 minutes. It’s meant to be used in medically supervised settings only, administered by health care professionals. This form of a strong painkiller that doesn’t require swallowing could be potentially valuable for patients who can’t swallow pills, and the single-dose form can help avoid dosage errors.

Of course, there is also the obvious concern about introducing yet another highly-potent opioid drug into the world that could be deadly if used incorrectly…

“IV liquids are fraught with dosing error after dosing error, but people still use them because they’re the only way to administer rapid pain relief,” Palmer says. A sublingual pill that works quickly but only comes in one fixed dose — as opposed to liquid morphine, for example, which comes in a range of dose sizes, all of which look the same — is a possible solution to that problem.