A new painkiller set to hit the market in March is coming under heavy fire from doctors and lawmakers warning of its powerful ability to kill.
Although the opiate Zohydro was ultimately approved by the US
Food and Drug administration, that endorsement went against the
recommendation given by the agency’s own advisory panel. The
panel voted 11 – 2 against approving the drug, but the FDA argued
its availability is necessary to help patients unfazed by current
The doctors warned that the drug could potentially kill an
individual after taking only two Zohydro capsules. A child,
meanwhile, could suffer a fatal overdose from just one pill.
“In the midst of a severe drug addiction epidemic fueled by
overprescribing of opioids, the very last thing the country needs
is a new, dangerous, high-dose opioid,” the letter reads.
Speaking to Forbes, Andrew Kolodny, of the advocacy group
Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, was even more
direct: “It’s a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an
easy-to-crush capsule. It will kill people as soon as it’s
According to NBC News, Congressional representatives and attorney
generals from 28 states have also called on the FDA to reconsider
the drug’s approval.
Although Zohydro is comprised of the same ingredients found in
Vicodin and OxyContin, but it’s not just the higher dose that has
medical experts and lawmakers concerned. As RT reported in November, the FDA did not mandate
Zohydro to follow the same abuse-deterrents that other drugs do.
As a result, the drug will remain just as effective if crushed,
snorted, or taken in a way other than originally intended. All
this has opponents worried that Zohydro’s potential for abuse
greatly exceeds that of other options on the market.
Still, some doctors believe the strong dosage would benefit a
select group of patients. Dr. Zonfu Chen of the University
Pittsburgh Medical Center East told NBC that Zoyhdro could be
helpful to patients who cannot take pain medication outside of
"The bottom line is no matter which narcotic you're talking
about, if you don't use it right it can be abused,” Chen
said. “It can be addictive. It all depends on how doctors
monitor it. It could be lifesaving. But if used the wrong way,
like any medication, it can cause trouble."
Forbes noted that Zohydro’s manufacturer, Zogenix, has also
claimed the drug does not contain acetaminophen, which Vicodin
does, and therefore is actually safer to use. Others say that
difference is negligible, since there are similar medications
The letter to the FDA also placed Zohydro in a larger context
regarding drug use in the United States. It noted that 2012 data
by the International Narcotics Control Board found Americans
consume more than 99 percent of the world’s hydrocodone supply
and 84 percent of the global stock of oxycodone.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
overdose deaths in the US have skyrocketed since 1999, from
roughly 4,000 to nearly 17,000 in 2010.
Although the FDA only reconsiders its rulings on rare occasions,
Dr. Jeanmarie Perrone of the University of Pennsylvania School of
Medicine told NBC it’s possible. "There is precedent for
reversing,” she said. “I think it could be