America is experiencing an escalating national problem of prescription painkiller abuse. Based on its increasing rate of death by overdose and its acting as a “gateway drug” to heroin use and its consequences, logic and common sense would dictate that America and her people do not need yet another highly addictive prescription painkiller unleashed upon her by the very government agency responsible for ensuring such travesties do not occur.
The New Prescription Zohydro
The newest “panacea for pain” approved by the FDA and scheduled to be released for use this month is yet another of the too-long list of hydrocodone-based narcotics in the same class as the likes of OxyContin.
According to Dr. Stephen Anderson, an emergency room doctor in Washington, the new drug is approximately “five times more potent” than those being dealt with currently and expressed that he is “five times more concerned” about the drug and its use, based on its potency alone.
Based on the information in a CNN article published in February, a coalition made-up of more than 40 consumer, addiction treatment groups and health care groups is pushing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to revoke its approval of Zohydro,
In a letter to Dr. Margaret Hamburg, Commissioner of the FDA, the coalition expressed their view that the “very last thing this country needs” is a drug such as Zohydro—a new and dangerous high-dose opioid. The coalition pointed out that our nation is already suffering a severe drug epidemic, one which is fueled by the overprescribing and misuse of opioid painkillers. The coalition expressed, as well, that there have been too many people already who are addicted to “similar opioid medications”
One addiction expert, Dr. Andrew Kolodny, describes Zohydro as “a whopping dose of hydrocodone”, one which is condensed into “an easy to crush capsule” . As president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, he admonishes that Zohydro will be killing people “as soon as it’s released.”
Entreaties to the FDA
There have been a series of entreaties (urgent and earnest requests) made to the FDA on the subject of Zohydro, in addition to the most recent letter by the coalition of more than 40 groups.
In December of last year, the State Attorney Generals from 29 different states also sent a letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, MD, expressing their collective concern regarding her agency’s recent approval of the “new high-dose narcotic painkiller”. Zohydro ER (Extended Release).
The state attorney generals expressed not wanting a repeat of potent prescription painkillers entering the market, contributing to a vicious cycle of the “overzealous pharmaceutical sales”, the overprescribing by physicians of such narcotics, the patient tampering, and the resultant nationwide epidemic of prescription drug abuse which has claimed thousands of lives.
A petition on Change.org also requests of the FDA to reconsider the position it has taken on Zohydro, saying “This could be the next OxyContin”.
The common concern which all these groups expressed regarding Zohydro is its potency and its abuse potential. All groups expressed a fear that the drug, especially at higher dose levels, will only serve to exacerbate the number of already increasing prescription painkiller overdoses.
The Writing on the Wall
The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) cites the fact that deaths due to prescription opioids has “more than quadrupled since 1999”.
Zohydro is likely destined to over-prescription and aggressive marketing by “big pharma” (the drug companies), just as its opioid-containing predecessors werel Of greatest concern are the stronger opioids containing hydrocodone–most frequently prescribed as well as the most frequently abused opioid. Zohydro’s sole ingredient is hydrocodone.
Professor of pain medicine, Dr. Alex Cahana, University of Washington in Seattle, expressed that he found “great difficulty” concerning the FDA’s wisdom in approving the drug in terms of protecting public health.
Dr. Anderson was most succinct as regards the paper writing service on the wall, noting that if we put more of this type of drug out on our streets, we will “see more overdoses related to this, no question.”