Compared to other prescription drugs, tramadol has a relatively young history. The drug was developed in 1962 by Grünenthal GmbH, a drug company specializing in pain. The company was founded in 1946 and has been a family business. Today, 50% of the company’s revenue comes from sales of painkillers (such as tramadol).
Approval and distribution:
After 15 years of testing, the drug was finally approved. It was brought to foreign markets under the name Tramal in 1977. However, it was not until 1995 that the drug was marketed in the United States and the United Kingdom.
From 2008 to 2012, prescriptions increased rapidly. In these five years, tramadol prescriptions increased from 23 million in 2008 to 28 million in 2010 to 37 million in 2012. It increased again in 2013, with nearly 44 million prescriptions in the United States alone.
Tramadol relieves pain by binding to opioid receptors in the brain and spinal cord. When a person takes a higher dose, they may experience the euphoria that many abusers seek.
When a person takes the drug orally, tramadol is converted to another compound. This compound is called O-desmethyltramadol and it is a more effective activator of opioid receptors. One may not like tramadol, even if it is not their intention.
Tramadol can also increase serotonin and norepinephrine levels in the brain as an antidepressant. This mechanism is thought to be due in part to the drug’s ability to reduce depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder. This may also be one of the reasons why a person is addicted to tramadol.