The upcoming release of Zohydro has been getting a lot of attention:
The hydrocodone-based drug is the latest in a long line of painkillers called opioid analgesics. The FDA approved the medication last fall to treat chronic pain, and it is set to become available to patients in March.
The drug was approved against the advice of the FDA’s own advisory board.
Despite a vote of 11 to 2 by an FDA panel to reject the powerful new drug, it was eventually given approval by the FDA for release.
There are concerns about the manufacturer’s access to the FDA.
Last fall, a series of emails were made public from a Freedom of Information Act request. They were emails between two professors who had, for a decade, organized private meetings between FDA officials and drug companies who make pain medicine. The drug companies pay the professors thousands of dollars to attend.
And here’s what has critics concerned. One of those companies was Zohydro’s original manufacturer, Elan Corp. Zogenix wasn’t in the picture yet but went on to partner with Elan.
One physician group isn’t mincing words about the impact of the drug.
“It’s a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an easy-to-crush capsule,” said Dr. Andrew Kolodny, president of the advocacy group Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. “It will kill people as soon as it’s released.”
Doctor Skeptic reviews the research on opioids as a pain management options and concludes with this:
The bottom line1. Opioids may not be effective for chronic non-cancer pain, and their use in such patients is associated with side effects, tolerance, dependence, and addiction.2. Despite this, prescription opioid use is increasing and with that, the rates of opioid abuse and opioid related death are also increasing.3. Harms from prescription opioids are over-represented in the socially disadvantaged.