Somewhat of a surprise was the recent ruling that the state of Massachusetts cannot ban the powerful new painkiller, Zohydro, from being prescribed in the state. The manufacturer of Zohydro, Zogenix, had argued that the ban was not constitutional and must be reversed.
The state governor, Deval Patrick, had announced his intention to make Zohydro unavailable since the manufacturer’s initial plan was to provide it without a tamper-proof component to deter abuse and potential overdose.
Judge Rya Zobel ruled that the state of Massachusetts had exceeded its authority in banning the drug, and she consequently implemented a preliminary injunction temporarily reversing the ban. The governor expressed disappointment that the public’s safety concerns were not sufficient to halt the sale of Zohydro, but he stated he would pursue other channels for addressing the widespread opioid abuse problem that is continuing to grow in the state and across the country.
Opioid pain medications have become a primary drug of abuse for a number of age groups. Deaths by opioid overdose now surpass deaths by homicide and motor vehicle accidents in numerous states.
While Zohydro may be an effective pain management medication, it will very likely be sought (and purchased illegally) by those with severe opioid addictions trying to avoid daily opioid withdrawal sickness. Sadly, overdose deaths will result from the use of this medication in similar fashion to the problems that surfaced when oxycontin hit the market. Please keep yourself informed, and if you are suffering with opioid addiction and withdrawal sickness, seek treatment immediately. There is opioid detox, methadone medication assistance, and private physicians using suboxone to help patients cope with their addiction.
Zohydro ER (extended release) is a new opioid-based pain medication just recently approved by the FDA and scheduled to be released for use in March of 2014. More than 40 healthcare organizations, advocacy groups, and physicians have come forward in a desperate appeal to the FDA to revoke the approval of Zohydro ER.
The medication is touted to be many times more potent than standard dosage hydrocodone, and the mounting fear is that Zohydro could lead to immediate abuse and overdose deaths across the country. This concern is in part stemming from the recent explosion in heroin use in the United States and the steady increase in opioid overdose fatalities that has emerged in the last five years.
One characteristic of Zohydro that presents increased risk is that it can be easily crushed and then snorted or injected. The medication was designed specifically for special pain management scenarios in which standard pain management interventions are not effective.
The manufacturers of Oxycontin brought a reformulated version to market some years ago that made if difficult for individuals to crush Oxycontin and misuse it. However, Zohydro was not designed with this tamper-resistant technology included.
Among the professional groups expressing grave concern over Zohydro is ASAM (the American Society of Addiction Medicine). Of particular note too is the fact that 28 State Attorney Generals have urged the Food and Drug Administration to re-examine their decision to approve the drug.
In lieu of the present opioid addiction epidemic that is sweeping the nation, it would seem that Zohydro will likely undergo some modification to insure less abuse potential. To see the drug removed from the market, before it has an irreversible harmful impact, is a goal around which most reasonable people can agree.
For additional reading on the escalation in prescription opioid addiction, review Black Market For Painkillers.