Zohydro: Not What The Doctor Ordered


The Food and Drug Administration is set to release a new painkiller, Zohydro, that some say will take lives just as its opioid predecessors have done time and time again. This new pill, which will become available in March, has many in outrage. Since the FDA’s approval of the “killer” pill in 2013, medical professionals, consumer advocacy groups, addiction experts, and even state attorneys have all written letters and called for the revocation of this potentially addicting and deadly drug.

One or two pills of Zohydro, which contains a much higher level of hydrocodone than your average painkiller, could potentially kill a child or an adult that has not developed a tolerance. In looking at the statistics laid out by the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, one can see that opioid-related deaths have skyrocketed since the late 1990’s. In fact, the FDA has released statements of its own, regarding concern for the rise in abuse of such drugs.

Still, the FDA is working with Zohydro’s manufacturer, Zogenix, to get this new drug out to the public by the spring.  An executive at Zogenix has declared the painkiller should not have any increased effect on the overall usage of opioids. Apparently, only a specific set of highly knowledgeable doctors will be allowed to handle the drug for certain patients with severe chronic illness.  However, contradictory to such a notion is the idea that in order to make this drug cost-effective it must be marketed much more widely than initially advertised. This has been pointed out by Washington State physician Dr. Stephen Anderson, only one of many professionals extremely worried about the introduction of yet another hydrocodone based pill to the market.

Zogenix and the FDA are claiming the benefits of Zohydro outweigh the risks. Dr. Brad Galer, an executive at Zogenix, recently stated, “…prescription data from the last five years shows that total use of ER opioids is constant and independent of new entrants to the market.” Although the painkiller will come with warnings, many doctors and pain specialists are not “buying it”.  Some medical professionals are even saying that opioids are an ineffective treatment for chronic pain as they simply lead to a higher tolerance and over-reliance on such addicting substances. The long list advocacy groups concerned about Zohydro believe this new drug to be just another potential killer of users and abusers. Many doctors are particularly irked by the introduction of this new drug because it can easily be crushed – a factor that may lead quickly to abuse and overdose.

Because Zohydro contains an exceedingly high dose of hydrocodone, physicians like Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, are warning: “[Zohydro] will kill people as soon as it’s released.” Of course, as with all addictive prescription pain medications, there is also the risk of illegal street usage. Drugs such as Zohydro actually contain a form of heroin. One can imagine why this may pose a societal threat. Without supervision, and a flagrant misuse of drugs such as Zohydro, the opioid-related death toll could rise significantly in the near future.

By Josh Taub



Huffington Post

Fox News

6 Responses to "Zohydro: Not What The Doctor Ordered"

  1. David   July 18, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    My doctor put me on this drug which Blue Cross will not cover. The entire cost comes out of my pocket at well over $125 monthly. Plus, it has to be sent to me through Caremark whose record of getting pain meds to patients in a timely manner isn’t all that great. A person can begin withdrawals before the next bottle arrives, I know this as a friend of mine is also purchasing through Caremark Exalgo. Anyway, I’m going to try it for the constant overall body pain I’ve been experiencing for twenty years for which I’ve been taking hydrocodone 10/325s. I took my first dose (15 mg) last night and woke up with less pain as I normally have in the a.m. as well as the tinnitus I’ve had since 1972 a bit on the rise. Every symptom I plan on monitoring and will stay in close touch with my pain manager.

  2. john   April 11, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I have lived in pain for years now. Hydrocodone 10/325 I take 1.5 every 4-6 hours that is 180 pills a month. I take1.5 and have to wait a hour for any relief then it only last 4 hours at the most so it is a struggle to get my pain from a 10 to a 6-7 and then keep it there but with Zohydro you would get constant relief for 12 hours after the first hour. That would be 60 pills a month. It slowly release the same amount for 12 hours so 2 hours out of the day I would be at a 10 pain level instead of 6 hours of the day battling trying to keep my pain level down. Hydrocodone is a very good medication because a lot of people can not take other pain meds so to final have a extended release form is a great thing. Heroin is the problem and that is because sick people can not get proper pain medication because every body wants to judge them like they are just seeking drugs to get high but when you are in pain and need medication it doesn’t effect you like someone that Is out to abuse it. It helps you more instead of giving you a high. People that actually have medical issues should be allowed to use what works its not the government jobs to tell doctors what to give patients or how much to give patients they are not a doctor. Shame on anyone that thinks a drug that could help millions of people should be banned because of some one abusing it. Millions of people should not suffer because of a abuse problem.

  3. Katie   February 27, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    Shame on this author. Zohydro does not contain a type of heroin. Heroin is an opioid, so is hydrocodone (the API). Saying Zohydro contains a type if heroin is like saying a rum and coke has a type of whiskey in it, which undermines the validity of this whole article.

    Now, aside from the poor writing, I do have some concerns about Zohydro myself. The fact that it is easily crushable increases the potential for abuse substantially. Additionally, there are already other extended release versions or morphine and hydrocodone that are already approved, not to mention fentanyl so I’m not entirely sure that this is going to provide pain relief that couldn’t be provided through other medications. I do, however, appreciate that it doesn’t contain acetaminophen in the formulary as many people don’t read the labels when they mix medications and end up with acetaminophen overdoses.

  4. Pete   February 27, 2014 at 9:11 am

    Trying to save the addict should not be done on the backs of those who suffer sever pain.

    An addict will find his path to destruction one way or another if he is intent on doing so, the availability of this drug will not change that.

  5. Jon   February 27, 2014 at 8:23 am

    I live with chronic pain and was part of the drug study for Zohydro, and I can tell you first hand that it is a wonderful medication! My body responds well to hydrocodone, while other pain meds like morphine and OxyContin only provide marginal relief. I hurt every minute of every hour of every day, and while combinations of meds reduce the pain from a 9 to a 6-7, the only legal hydrocodone meds have acetaminophen which is damaging my liver.

    On Zohydro I was able to live a mostly normal life; today, I cannot do any physical exercise and I have to use a disabled sticker on my car because walking too far is unbearable. Thank God that Zohydro was approved and I eagerly await getting my prescription so that I can actually live my life instead of enduring never-ending torture.

    If you want to help the addicted, then end prohibition and treat them like patients instead of throwing them in prison.

  6. Jack Freeman   February 27, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Not to be rude…but there are far more people out there who will benefit from this drug then will abuse it and possibly die. I for one would welcome it as opposed the hydrocodone which with its other active ingredients had given me tinnitus and bronchitis…there will always be addicts and those who will refuse to get help when they realize they are dependent and abusing a drug…for those of us who suffer chronic pain this drug will be a godsend. If the case could be made to block this drug…then alcohol would be better to block as it kills far more people each year then any drug.


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