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New painkiller: Deadly new pill is 10 times stronger than Vicodin, experts say

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The approval of a controversial new painkiller that is said to be an alarming 10 times stronger than Vicodin is being hotly debated and addiction experts are afraid that the painkiller will trigger a new wave of drug abuse, Red Planet writes. And according to a Feb. 26 report from CNN, the new painkiller, which is called Zohydro, is creating quite a stir among health centers and consumer groups.

The Food and Drug Administration is scheduled to release the powerful new painkiller next month after it was approved back in 2013. However, the release of the new painkiller is being strongly protested and many medical professionals are urging the FDA to revoke the approval of the pill.

Regarding the new painkiller, a coalition consisting of more than 40 health care, consumer and addiction treatment groups wrote a letter to the FDA and an excerpt from it reads:

"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. Too many people have already become addicted to similar opioid medications, and too many lives have been lost."

The coalition stressed that Zohydro will take the lives of many people, just like other opioids have done in the past. But the problem with this new painkiller is that it is so powerful that one or two pills could potentially kill a child or an adult that has not developed a tolerance, according to a recent report from Liberty Voice.

"It's a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an easy-to-crush capsule," Dr. Andrew Kolodny, who is president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, explained. "It will kill people as soon as it's released."

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"The technology is out there to make this a safer pill. They just chose not to use it," Dr. Charles Reznikoff, of the Hennepin County Medical Center, told Fox 9 News.

Reznikoff insists that the new painkiller will be easily abused because users can easily destroy the time-release coating, which will enable them to get the full dose all at once.

"I would never prescribe it or recommend that it be prescribed," Reznikoff stated. "I would also recommend that the insurance companies not make it available to patients."

“This could be the next OxyContin,” reads a petition on Change.org asking the FDA to change course and revoke the approval of the new painkiller.

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, prescription opioid deaths more than quadrupled since 1999 — there were 4,030 deaths involving the drugs in 1999, compared with 16,651 in 2010.

“You’re talking about a drug that’s somewhere in the neighborhood of five times more potent than what we’re dealing with now,” said Dr. Stephen Anderson, a Washington emergency room physician who is not part of the most recent petition to the FDA about the drug. “I’m five times more concerned, solely based on potency.”

Those in favor of the approval of the new painkiller argue that there is not really cause for concern because the pill will be only prescribed to patients for whom alternative treatment options (e.g., non-opioid analgesics or immediate-release opioids) are ineffective, not tolerated, or would be otherwise inadequate to provide sufficient management of pain.

What's your opinion of this controversial new painkiller? Should the FDA reconsider the approval of Zohydro?

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