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New painkiller Zohydro: Potential for deadly abuse, much like Oxycontin

New narcotic pain killer, Zohydro, which is a pure hydrocodone pill, has been approved by the FDA, but many folks in the medical community want the approvel revoked.
Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The new painkiller Zohydro, which is a prescribed potent painkiller scheduled to be available for the first time in March, has folks in the medical community concerned. Many professionals are requesting that the Food and Drug Administration revoke the approval of this latest extremely potent narcotic drug. The new painkiller, which is an opioid analgesic, has a high risk of abuse reports doctors, according to CNN News on Feb. 26.

The medication was approved last year and it is scheduled to become available for doctors to prescribe in March. Dr. Andre Kolodny, who is the president for the group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, calls this drug “a whooping dose of hydrocodone.”
Kolodny also said that it is so strong that “It will kill people as soon as it released.”

The pill, which will come in high doses of hydrocodone, once ingested releases the drug over a period of time. Zohydro is much like the drug OxyContin when it was first released, people were crushing the pill to do away with the time release function of the drug. In turn the crushed version unleashed the potency of the medication all at once.

People were snorting the crushed version up their noses or dissolving it in water and it was being administered in a hypodermic needle. This was the way OxyContin was abused when first on the market.

This gave abusers their desired high, but it also unleashed too much of the medication for some and many overdoses followed. OxyContin has since come up with a version that cannot be crushed or dissolved, but the new hydrocodone pill, Zohydro, has the potential to be crushed and snorted or dissolve in water for intervenes use.

A petition on claims that Zohydro is dangerous. They are also saying that “This could be the next OxyContin. The petition urges the FDA to reconsider its approval of the drug.

Adding another potent opioid pain killer to all the drugs already on the market is something that many in the medical field are urging the FDA to reconsider. "Shocking, outrageous and genuinely frightening," said Kolodny of the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. The drug will enter the market already classified as a schedule II narcotic drug, unlike the hydrocodone already on the market that is a schedule III medication.

As a schedule II drug, Zohydro will have tighter restrictions for prescribing, but it is not the folks who will legitimately use a narcotic for pain that is of grave concern. As seen with OxyContin, the new hydrocodone drug will most likely be a drug that will have massive street value and if that is the case it won't be long for the new hydrocodone pill to be part of the opioid street trade.

According to 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.”

The medical communities concern is that Zohydro will add to the rising overdose numbers, especially when the higher doses of this drug are used . Dr. Stephen Anderson, a Washington emergency room doctor said, "You're talking about a drug that's somewhere in the neighborhood of five times more potent than what we're dealing with now.”

Anderson isn’t taking part in the petitions, he is just one more of many doctors in the ER rooms around the country who see firsthand the dangers of these very potent drugs.

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