Addiction Experts Alarmed By Possible Abuse Of A New Pain Medication

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Medications directed to aid patients to deal with pain, commonly known as painkillers, have been developed throughout the years. However, it is also known that these drugs are among the most abused. Currently, the pharmaceutical companies are trying to develop a pure and powerful form of the country’s 2nd most abused drug. This alarmed the community of addiction experts, believing that this can lead to abuse.

The very addictive painkiller hydrocodone is one of the contents of the new pills, with 10 times the amount as Vicodin. Zogenix of San Diego is planning to apply early 2012 to start commercializing Zohydro in 2013; also, four companies have started patient testing of this drug.

This would be the first time patients can buy legally pure hydrocodone, if this would be approved. Present pharmaceuticals contain a combination of the drug and non-addictive painkillers (i.e. acetaminophen). The experts stated that they have worries over Zohydro, which is a time-released medication directed to treat moderate to severe pain, because this could be crushed by abusers to have an extreme, immediate effect. April Rovero, president of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse, articulated her concern that this drug might be the next OxyContin, and is unnecessary to be marketed.

OxyContin was introduced in 1995 by Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn. Abusers found that the drug’s time-released characteristic could be broken down through crushing the pills. Then, OxyContin was made in a tamper-resistant form; nonetheless, abusers tried the generic oxycodone which was not time-released. Currently, the topmost abused drug in the US is oxycodone, while hydrocodone is the second, as stated by the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Furthermore, more drug tests are done because of the market of legal but powerful opiate narcotics, from which drug companies earn $10 billion yearly. Peter Jackson, co-founder of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids, stated “The whole supply-side system is set up to perpetuate this massive unloading of opioid narcotics on the American public.”

The drug firms uttered that the new hydrocodone may be another way for the physicians to treat patients having legitimate pain. Also, they said that its pure form can prevent liver problems related to increased doses of acetaminophen. They added that the use can be regulated by law, stipulating that patients need to go back to their physicians every time pills seem to be necessary.

Purdue Pharma and Cephalon are performing late-stage trials of their version of hydrocodone, based on the documents organized with federal regulators. On the other hand, Egalet accomplished the initial phases of testing directed towards knowing the drug’s basic safety. Lindhardt stated that the product may be marketed in 2015; however, they still want to observe the FDA’s response to other companies.

Experts are very worried, knowing the detriments brought by narcotic painkillers like murders, robberies and the like. Many of patients experiencing actual pain are starting to be addicted to these painkillers, aside from those who are already drug abusers. Furthermore, about 15, 000 deaths in 2008 were associated with prescription painkillers, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The data compiled by the Drug Enforcement Administration also presented the in 2009, the emergency room visits due to hydrocodone abuse increased to 86, 258. It also led to the death of 910 people in Florida and about 1, 803 in other parts of the country from 2003 to 2007.

Hydrocodone is part of the opiate family (including morphine, heroin, oxycodone, codeine, methadone, hydromorphone). Opioids halts pain, but it leads to extreme sense of well-being and physical dependence. Its withdrawal manifestations include cramps, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and tangled thinking.

Due to the government’s persistence, Purdue Pharma introduced a new OxyContin pill version, which squishes rather than crumbles when one attempts to crush it. However, Zogenix believed that there is insufficient proof that tamper-resistant reformulations can prevent abuse. On November 29, Roger Hawley, Zogenix chief executive, articulated that the FDA was not putting pressure on them to place an abuse restriction version in Zohydro. He added that soon, they would deem introducing an abuse-deterrent, their current priority is a safer pure form of hydrocodone. Moreover, Erica Jefferson, FDA spokeswoman, stated that they would not give any remarks regarding their deliberations with pharmaceutical companies because of the necessity in protecting trade secrets.

The advocates of drug control are alarmed by the laxity of the US government in dealing with addictive painkillers. The US’s consumption of the globe’s hydrocodone and oxycodone amount to 99% and 83% respectively, in 2008, from the International Narcotics Control Board’s study.

To ensure the safety of these commonly abused pain medications, much effort is needed from the government and the drug companies. At the end of the day, the health of the people should stand as their priority.




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