Can a New Pain Pill Mean More Addiction?
It’s just around the corner. A new opioid pain medication promises to increase the effectiveness of pain management by offering a purer form of hydrocodone will hit the shelves soon. Called Zohydro, the drug in question will be available in prescriptions of up to 50 mg of hydrocodone. This level of hydrocodone is particularly concerning because it is significantly higher than many drugs available today which are already abused even in lower concentrations. One vicodin tablet, for example, contains 5 mg of hydrocodone.
Why the FDA approved a drug of such potency is a question that many professionals and anti-addiction organizations are asking today. There is, in fact, a movement to ask the FDA to remove this drug from its approval list. With the opioid problem that the United States has grappled with for decades, introducing a drug containing more concentrated levels of hydrocodone could be a recipe for disaster. The decision to approve the drug is even more perplexing because an FDA panel voted against approval of the drug back in December 2012 by an 11-2 margin.
Just a few months ago, SAMHSA released a study showing that abuse of prescription pain medication – Opiates – may be one of the main causes of heroin addiction in today’s society. Further, there is a significant contingent of professionals that question the usefulness and effectiveness of opiate drugs in general to treat chronic pain. Despite this concern, many physicians still prescribe opiate-based medications as a matter of course and clearly the FDA sees fit to approve yet another drug in this class.
This new pain medication could spell a recipe for greater addiction if indeed it can be abused like other opiate drugs in the past. Further, with such a high concentration of oxycodone and the fact that the drug has extended-release properties, it may cause an even higher number of fatalities and accidental overdoses, especially in younger children. We encourage clinicians to learn more about this drug and patients to educate themselves on its addictive properties to make the best treatment decisions possible.