The Food and Drug Administration recently approved a controversial new painkiller called Zohydro ER that both federal and state lawmakers believe is destined to become a scourge on society; a tightened noose already around the necks of those struggling with prescription opiate addiction. However, FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stands by her decision to give the drug its wings, saying that America needs more treatment options for those people living in pain.
The drug has been referred to as “heroin in a capsule,” and ever since it was approved last October, several legislators and medical experts have emerged to protest the extended-release hydrocodone pill from being marketed in the United States. Many believe the FDA should withdraw its approval of the drug, in an effort to keep the country from spiraling further into a prescription painkiller epidemic.
Recent reports indicate that overdoses from prescription medications have continued to soar in the United States throughout the past decade, with government approved medications responsible for killing more than 16,000 people every year.
Among those demanding the immediate shelving of Zohydro is West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, who recently introduced a piece of legislation called “Act to Ban Zohydro,” which calls on the FDA to reconsider the drugs approval, citing the potential for abuse and addiction as the primary concern in his 13-point argument.
However, in a recent blog on the FDA website, Hamburg said that although the efforts on behalf of lawmakers have been “commendable,” blocking the sale of Zohydro just because there is a risk of abuse and addiction is ludicrous, arguing that it is the physician’s responsibility to properly monitor their patients.
As it stands, 29 states have demanded the FDA overturn its decision to approve the Zohydro, with some state leaders invoking emergency orders making it a crime for physicians to prescribe the drug. In Massachusetts, Governor Deval Patrick launched a smear campaign against Zohydro, telling residents that the sale of the drug had created an uprising in overdose deaths, declaring a “public health emergency” across the state.
Despite lawsuits and state legislation aimed at banning Zohydro, recent court rulings have sided with Zogentix, the pharmaceutical company responsible for the drug. The drug is scheduled to be released later this month.