Before Zohydro, the newest opioid-based drug, gained FDA approval in 2012, their advisory committee voted 11 to 2 to reject it. So it is not surprising that health care professionals and addiction specialists are pushing-back hard against the release of Zohydro, petitioning the FDA to hold back its release until better controls can be put in place.
Hydrocodone is the most prescribed medication on earth. Every day in America, heroin kills eight people, cocaine kills 12, and Hydrocodone kills 45. 1,370 Americans check in to an emergency room every day for Hydrocodone overdoses. And it is in this environment that the FDA is introducing an opioid prescription drug that is ten times as powerful as Hydrocodone.
Dr. Marc Fleming, assistant professor of Pharmaceutical Health Outcomes and Policy at the University Of Houston College Of Pharmacology says there is an argument to be made for Zohydro, though he says personally he thinks the drug should not be released yet. Fleming says Hydrocodone is a combination of an opioid and acetaminophen. When people abuse the drug, taking it in larger than prescribed quantities, their livers pay the price of so much acetaminophen in their systems. Zohydro does not have acetaminophen and does not tax the livers.
“So you’ve removed the risk of liver damage, but you’ve increased the risk of addiction,” Dr. Fleming tells KTRH News.
Dr. Fleming says for any regular adult and especially for a child, taking a 50mg pill of Zohydro could lead to respiratory depression and increased deaths associated with this drug.
“My personal opinion is that until we get control of the whole opioid epidemic, we don’t need to introduce new medications that could exacerbate the problem,” Dr. Fleming said.