Hydrocodone Offers Abuse Free Drug, May Replace Zohydro


Last week Zohydro was shipped to pharmacies and since then the maker of the drug, Zogenix, has experienced a backlash. The Food and Drug Administration approved the formula, the first pure form of hydrocodone, in December. Since then, it has been often criticized and caused concern for not being resistant to abuse and has potential to worsen the epidemic of prescription abuse. However, the concern may not last long with Zohydro potentially being replaced by an abuse free version of hydrocodone.

The makers of OxyContin, Purdue Pharma, have completed testing for their newest project and announced a new hydrocodone that is resistant to recreational abuse. Gary L. Stiles, the company’s senior vice president of research and development, stated that this was one more step towards offering chronic pain patients a therapeutic option that would be “unattractive to drug seekers.”

This news of a abuse-resistant painkiller follows the recent release of Zohydro, which is the primary ingredient of Vicodin. A number of medical groups, law makers, and state prosecutors have expressed fear that the drug will worsen the nation’s prescription drug abuse, which has already become a severe epidemic. Zohydro is a strong and effective pain treatment, but the possibility of opiate dependency has made it controversial.

The extended-release formula of hydrocodone is planned to be submitted to the FDA within this year. Purdue Pharma has designed the new tablets to prevent the pill from being crushed by users who would be snorting or injecting it. With this new information Zohydro’s maker, Zogenix, saw their shares experience a drop of over 20 percent. It is unlikely that physicians would prescribe a tablet that is susceptible to abuse if a different hydrocodone option was available. If the FDA concludes the new Hydrocodone is a safer option to offer patients, Zohydro will potentially be taken from the market and replaced by the abuse free painkiller.

The concern behind Zohydro is well founded. The epidemic of drug related death has caused the DEA to make adjustments that statistics suggest will help. Early March, the Drug Enforcement Administration published its proposal to classify hydrocodone combination products (HCPs) to Schedule II, where hydrocodone itself has been listed since 1970. Schedule II is reserved for harmful drugs that have a high risk of abuse with potential to lead to severe dependence. HCPs are opioid painkillers, the same chemical class as morphine and heroin. However, they contain acetaminophen, which is aspirin, and have been classified Schedule III. The FDA and Assistant Secretary for Health and Human Services recently recommended this movement to allow further control over the drugs.

Overdose has been increasing rapidly as a cause of death since 2000, and prescriptions for painkillers are a main contributor, killing around 15,000 Americans each year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. That number includes only those prescribed the drugs by physicians and does not cover the millions of users who also take them.

Monitoring the Future surveys, referenced by the DEA, released the results of studying 8th, 10th, and 12th graders from 2002 through 2011. According to their findings, OxyContin, a more securely controlled painkiller of Schedule II, is used half as much by 12th graders. This means the more easily accessed Vicodin on Schedule III is abused non-medically twice as much. The statistics could add reassurance that the better control of more dangerous substances should cut down the risk. Zohydro will be working towards a replacement formula, like the new Hydrocodone, which offers hope that both could add abuse free options for patients with chronic pain.

By: Whitney Hudson

Washington Post

7 Responses to "Hydrocodone Offers Abuse Free Drug, May Replace Zohydro"

  1. chelsea   November 24, 2014 at 11:36 am

    So easy to potray an addict as this horrible people who are only seeking a high. Not all opiate addicted people choose to drug seek but simply have been given medication that basically consumed their lives and have no choice but to continue to use to avoid the chronic pain withdrawal and sobriety. What is the answer for that? Does anyone even care for those of us who don’t want to be dependent on anything but can’t because long term use has literally altered the chemicals in your brain to where even if you reach sobriety its incredibly difficult to hold onto. But that’s ok we are just a bunch of drug seekers so who gives a damn about them there not even looked at as human beings.

  2. Rick   October 31, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    lawmakers, addiction specialists and others don’t fell our pain if it looks like it can cause problems don’t do it and let all those in pain suffer

  3. Jon   March 17, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Chronic pain sufferers never chose to live in agony each day. Whether it is physical trauma, cancer, arthritis or some other condition, we live in pain every hour of every day. Of course the excruciating pain we suffer is irrelevant because an addict voluntarily and illegally chooses to abuse drugs and alcohol. If making drugs illegal stopped abuse, then no one would use heroin or cocaine. Prohibiting Zohydro will not fix addiction problems, but it will cause physical torture for patients like me.

    I have had surgeries and used virtually every medication available (morphine, oxycodone, etc.). The only thing doctors can do for me is try and lessen the pain, and for me hydrocodone is the only medication that works well. I got my Zohydro prescription filled last week, and it is truly wonderful to be able to walk around without debilitating pain!

    I don’t know about some of the other politicians, but West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s push to ban Zohydro is quintessential corruption. Manchin’s daughter is Heather Bresch, who is the CEO of Mylan Pharmaceuticals. Mylan competes with Zohydro’s manufacturer Zogenix, and they are the second largest contributor to Manchin’s campaign committee. If I send Manchin a six-figure check, will he criminalize my business competition too?

  4. Chris   March 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    Matt.. you beat me to it =) If the “author” of this article is supposed to have ANY connection to the medical field, that connection should be removed immediately! Acetaminophen is Tylenol, and Aspirin is Aspirin!

  5. Joe   March 14, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    FDA Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg told Senate lawmakers that the recently-launched Zohydro fills an “important and unique niche” for treating chronic pain. Her agency has been under fire for clearing the drug since December, amid concerns from lawmakers, addiction specialists and others that the drug will exacerbate the national epidemic of prescription drug abuse.

  6. dan   March 14, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    On 3/13/2014, Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) submitted a bill demanding that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) take back approval of painkiller Zohydro. Zohydro is produced by Zogenix, Inc., which is a NASDAQ-listed stock with ticker ZGNX.

    This is a price manipulation and a clear conflict of interest:

    1. Senator Manchin’s daughter is Heather Bresch, CEO of a pharmaceutical company called Mylan. Mylan specializes in generics.

    2. Mylan produces an painkiller painkiller generic that is in direct market competition with Zohydro:
    Morphine Sulfate ER 15mg, 30mg, 60mg, 100mg.

    3. The resulting legislation is driving the price down, despite FDA approval of the drug, and is continues to artificially suppress market action.

    4. Mylan was the #2 campaign donor to Joe Manchin from 2009-2013:
    Mylan Inc PAC donations:

    This is a clear and obvious conflict of interest, and the Senator should immediately be investigated and held responsible for manipulating the security.

  7. Matt McCarthy   March 14, 2014 at 6:10 pm

    Acetaminophen is aspirin? hahahahahaha


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