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New pain pill Zohydro sets medical world on edge: ‘Whopping dose’ of addiction

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A newly approved pain pill aimed at easing the suffering of long-term patients has set many in the medical community on edge, who see the hydrocodone-based opioid as the next and more powerful drug of choice for recreational users and abusers.

"Shocking, outrageous and genuinely frightening," said Andrew Kolodny, president of the Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, of the newly approved and hydrocodon-based Zohydro, in CNN. Most egregious to his group was the fact that the Food and Drug Administration approved the pill one day after it upped the classification of hydrocodone-containing drugs from Schedule III to Schedule II out of concern for misuse.

A coalition of more than 40 different health care and addiction treatment groups have sent a letter to the FDA urging officials to revoke approval of the drug. In December, attorneys general for 29 states sent a letter to the FDA urging the same, CNN said.

"It's a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an easy-to-crush capsule," Mr. Kolodny said, in CNN. "It will kill people as soon as it's released.

The pill is believed to be highly addictive, up to five times more potent than presently prescribed pain pills — the "Next OxyContin," said one concerned petitioner to the FDA, CNN reported.

The FDA, meanwhile, and Zohydro maker Zogenix, say the pill's benefits to control pain outweigh the risks of addiction, if used properly. But doctors aren't assuaged.

"Put more of this kind of drug on the street and I'll see more overdoses related to this, no question," said Stephen Anderson, past president of the Washington chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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