Could Zohydro Be The Next Oxycontin?

on Friday, 06 June 2014. Posted in Breaking News

Could Zohydro Be The Next Oxycontin?

In recent years, prescription drug abuse has been a problem that addiction recovery specialists, doctors, and pharmacists agree is rapidly becoming more severe. Hospitals and criminal justice systems are reporting increasing spikes in the number of deaths related to the abuse of opiates like Vicodin.

Many individual state governments have taken steps to place much higher limits on the ways in which a patient may be able to procure dangerous drugs, including putting in place educational sessions for doctors aimed at identifying patients who may be at risk for addiction, and recording systems that allow for doctors and pharmacists to be alerted when a patient attempts to receive multiple prescriptions of a dangerous drug.

While both federal and state governments have taken steps to limit the availability of existing drugs, however, the Federal Drug Administration has also made a move that many see as potentially deadly by approving a drug called Zohydro, which contains 5-10 times more heroine-like opiates than a drug like Vicodin.

Drug Undiluted By Acetaminophen

Drugs like Vicodin are pain killers, and are generally prescribed for the management of extreme pain, as in the case of surgery or serious injury. Because of the fact that the drugs are so harmful to one’s organs, including liver and kidneys, they are generally intended for only short term use.

Many painkillers that are currently on the market are specifically formulated to minimize instances of long term abuse. They contain acetaminophen, which is an over the counter painkiller and may lower the chances of a person developing a long term reliance on opiates.

Zohydro Unpopular Among Medical Experts

The FDA’s decision to approve Zohydro has surprised and even shocked many members of the medical community. The FDA’s advisory board, which is comprised of highly established members of the medical community voted against the drug’s approval in a vote of 11 to 2 in December of 2012.

Many worry that the drug, which is even more addictive and toxic than many of the opiates currently responsible for major health crises across the country, will lead to thousands of preventable deaths and addictions. Andrew Kolodny, who holds a position as the chief medical officer at the Phoenix House Foundation warns that Zohydro, “Will almost certainly cause dependence in the people that are intended to take it,”

Influx in Prescription Drug Abuse Traced Back to Prescribed Use

Many doctors are intensely trepidatious about the approval of a drug as highly addictive as Zohydro for a number of reasons. One main reason that many view the drug as a serious threat to the health of many is that many people who become addicted to prescription drugs like Vicodin are initially introduced to the substance after having it prescribed to them by a doctor.

Because of the highly addictive nature of opiates, a patient who may have no history of recreational drug use may find themselves dependent on the drug in a relatively short period  of time.

Painkillers and a Public Health Crisis

The problem of prescription drug abuse is quickly becoming an epidemic in the United States. Prescription drug abuse and addiction is fast surpassing other causes of death to become the most common contributor to fatal incidents in the country. Public safety experts across the country are making serious efforts to educate parents about the dangers of drugs and to stress the importance of keeping dangerous drugs away from teens.

Many communities have set up programs where dangerous unused drugs can be safely disposed of so that they do not wind up in the possession of an individual who may  abuse them. 

photo credit: Amanda M Hatfield via photopin cc

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