New painkiller, set to hit markets in March, has health care professionals alarmed

New painkiller, set to hit markets in March, has health care professionals alarmed

A new painkiller is set to hit the market and it's leaving some health care official worried.

The approval of a new pain pill has left many health care professionals and addiction treatment specialists outraged and stunned. This pill, hydrocone-based Zohydro, is designed to ease the pain struggles of long-term patients. For many, however, it seems as though its risks are likely to outweigh any benefits it could provide.

Zohydro is expected to be released in March of this year. When it enters the market, it will be one of the most powerful pain killers available to patients. The highest dose of the drug provides 5 to 10 times more oxycodone as Vicodin, a pain medication that is prescribed frequently across the country.

One group of over 40 health care, consumer and addiction treatment groups is asking the Food and Drug Administration to revoke prior approval of this new drug.

In a letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, FDA Commissioner, the group argued that, “In the midst of a severe drug epidemic fueled by overprescribing of opioids, the very last thing the country needs is a new, dangerous, high-dose opioid.” The coalition explained, “Too many people have already become addicted to similar opioid medications, and too many lives have been lost.”

President of advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, calls the drug, “…a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an easy-to-crush capsule.” He calls the new pill “shocking, outrageous and genuinely frightening,” and cautions, “It will kill people as soon as it’s released.”

In December 2013, attorney generals from 29 states sent a similar letter to the FDA to revoke their approval of the drug.

However, the FDA and Zogenix, the maker of Zohydro, explained that the level of pain control the drug provides will outweigh its risk of addiction as long as it is used properly.

Stephen Anderson, former president of the Washington chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, has doubts. He says, “Put more of this kind of drug on the street and I’ll see more overdoses related to this, no question.”


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