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Our Society Needs to Reconsider The Painkiller Zohydro

In October 2013, the FDA went against the recommendation of its own advisory committee and approved the drug named Zohydro. The drug is the first hydrocodone-only medication available in America. Hydrocodone is the main ingredient in the popular prescription painkiller known as Vicodin which also contains acetaminophen.

Attorneys general from 28 states have asked the FDA to reconsider the controversial approval of the new narcotic. Zohydro ER will be available in many different doses with it's highest packing up to ten times more of the "heroin-like" narcotic than traditional hydrocodone medications.

Zohydro is an extended-release medication which is slowly released in the body over a period of 12 hours. This new medication has a very dangerous abilility to be abused.   Addicts and abusers will be able to crush it and chew it. The ability to crush a medication this powerful opens the flood gates for it to be snorted, or much worse, shot intravenously. We saw an identical problem with Oxycontin's “OC” pills. They were extended-release and were heavily abused, which led to an overwhelming amount of deaths. Purdue Pharma, makers of Oxycontin, stripped the “OC” form of the pills off the market in August 2010 and replaced them with a new “OP” pill which is abuse-resistant.

In their letter to the FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, the 28 attorneys general said they did not want a repeat of the recent past when potent painkillers entered the market without abuse-deterrent formulas. "This created an environment whereby our nation witnessed a vicious cycle of overzealous pharmaceutical sales, doctors overprescribing the narcotics and patients tampering with these drugs, ultimately resulting in a nationwide prescription drug epidemic claiming thousands of lives," they wrote.

Jack Conway, the attorney general in Kentucky, a state that has been hit hard by opioid abuse, said that for decades it has fought the disastrous effects of the illegal marketing of the drug OxyContin.  "Zohydro ER has the potential to exacerbate the prescription pill epidemic, and given that abuse-deterrent properties are capable of being developed and required, the FDA's decision to approve the drug doesn't make sense," he said.

What may be the biggest scandal with this decision to approve this medication is what other medications are produced by the makers of Zohydro. In 2010, Zogenix bought the right to market Zohydro in the United States from another company, Elan. The following year, a company named Alkermes, which makes Vivitrol, bought a unit of Elan that included Zohydro. Vivitrol is a medication prescribed to treat patients addicted to opioids or alcohol. How on earth is it legal to sell a product that is going to cause addiction problems to rise and then under the same company sell a medication to help the problem that the first medication has caused? This is an outrage that needs to be known to the public.


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