Monday, April 07, 2014

Vermont moves to restrict access to new painkiller

Vermont lawmakers are taking steps to restrict access to a new kind of narcotic painkillers because public health officials across the U.S. are concerned their use could make drug abuse worse. Zohydro, which the Food and Drug Administration approved in October, has more narcotic pain reliever than pills such as Vicodin and is crushable, making it appealing to addicts who want a quick high.

While Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick moved to forbid Zohydro, "the first single-ingredient hydrocodone drug approved for U.S. patients," Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin sent out emergency rules making it more difficult for doctors to prescribe powerful painkillers, Beth Garbitelli writes for the Burlington Free Press. "What we believe this rule will do is ensure that we are very, very careful about prescribing this FDA-approved opiate in Vermont with the hope that we won't repeat the mistakes that we made with OxyContin with an even more powerful form," Shumlin said.

San Diego-based Zogenix, which makes Zhoydro, said the drug isn't more powerful than other hydrocodone medications and it has established a group of experts to ensure the drug is not abused. The company said "that its sales representatives are not being paid based on the volume of sales, but rather on their efforts to ensure prescribers, pharmacists and patients are educated to understand the risks and benefits of extended-release opioids," Garbitelli reports. Some public health officials believe that people turn to heroin after they get addicted to prescription painkillers. (Read more)

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