It is no secret that our country if facing an on going crisis with opiate based medications. Opiate abuse has hit record breaking levels and state governments are doing whatever they can to help their citizens. Recently a drug known as Zohydro was approved by the FDA. Zohydro is an extended release tablet of hydrocodone that has no tamper proofing, making it very easy for abusers to turn the tablet into immediate release. When the tablet becomes immediate release, it becomes an extreme danger to the users health and can easily lead to an overdose. These types of pills have been around in the past and flooded the black market leading to an increase in opiate abuse, and overdose deaths.
The state of Massachusetts is being pro-active against Zohydro. In the past few months, state officials have voiced their concern to the FDA's passing of this medication. They have pleaded with the FDA to recant their vote and to not make this medication available to the public, but their pleading has fallen on deaf ears. The approval of Zohydro has made many state governments look for ways to combat this medication. Massachusetts decided to ban Zohydro entirely, not allowing the medication to be available to their citizens until further research has been done.
Zohydro is the only all-hydrocodone pill on the market. It was developed because all other hydrocodone pills on the market contain Acetaminophen (Tylenol). For patients who are on high doses of hydrocodone, the Acetaminophen which is mixed with the pills can lead to liver toxicity and even death.
The idea of Zohydro is great in theory, but this drug brings more harm than good. When a similar medication was released in 1997 known as Oxycontin, it too was extended release but with oxycodone (rather than hydrocodone). The Oxycontin pills did not have tamper proofing and it lead to an influx of abusers and the increase in popularity on the black market. Since many people overdosed on Oxycontin, the pharmaceutical company changed their pill's formula to a tamper resistant version called Oxycontin OP. When Oxycontin was changed, many abusers made the switch to heroin as they could do longer get their high from Oxy's.
It is common sense that putting a drug like this on the market will cause major problems. I do not use that word lightly because abusers see this drug as the next big thing for opiate addicts. It has no business being on the market without tamper proofing and it saddens me that the FDA would approve a drug like this. It will ultimately cause major drug abuse issues, and definitely create new drug addicts.
According to Purdue Pharma, (makers of Oxycontin) they also have been working on a hydrocodone-only medication, but theirs will include tamper proofing just like Oxycontin OP. If this this true and has a reasonable date of release, the FDA should reconsider the passing of Zohydro. If they do not take this drug off the market, expect more states to follow Massachusetts lead. When opiates are abused, it costs the tax payer money for the damage brought on by drug addiction (more overdoses, more crime, and more deaths). I applaud Massachusetts for being the first to ban it, and hope more will follow.