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New Painkiller Banned from Mass. Pharmacy Shelves

Pills(WGGB) — In response to the public health emergency of growing heroin overdoses and opioid addiction, the state has banned the painkiller Zohydro.

The ban was approved last week after the Governor’s declaration.

Massachusetts health officials have spoken, outlining a decision to ban the painkiller Zohydro. It was recently approved by the FDA as a single ingredient hydrocodone

“Zohydro is the hydrocodone component of that, without the Tylenol, so yeah, there is a lot of abuse potential for hydrocodone in the community,” explains Dr. David Gamblin of Holyoke Medical Center.

And with a rise in heroin and opioid overdoes on the rise, the Public Health Council took a closer look at Zohydro and said it feared that the painkiller could add to the spike in overdose deaths

“Hydrocodone is very addictive.  Zohydro was designed to eliminate the Tylenol piece.  There’s Tylenol in the Vicodin that’s out there right now.  It was actually meant to be a bit safer,” Gamblin adds.

But Mass. health officials contend it is not a suitable alternative.

The maker of Zohydro, San Diego-based Zogenix, fired back saying “In terms of hydrocodone potency, a 10 mg dose of Zohydro ER is actually the exact same potency as a 10 mg dose of Vicodin or any other hydrocodone product.”

Zohydro – like any other prescribed painkiller – can be addictive and that’s what has some health officials concerned

With the back drop of the rise in overdoses in the Bay State, Mass. health officials are taking no chances.

Gamblin says, “A lot of drug seekers to seek out specifically hydrocodone, specifically Vicodin, so I think that the governor’s attempt to eliminate one of those entry points is probably what he is after.”

The FDA released a statement to ABC40, saying:

“Both the prevention of prescription opioid abuse and appropriate pain management are top public health priorities at FDA.  Actions to advance one should not impede the other; we must balance our efforts and apply sound science as we move forward.  While FDA plays an important role in mitigating the risks of addiction, abuse and misuse of prescription opioids, the agency cannot fix the problem alone.  A comprehensive approach must be taken by federal and state governments, public health experts, opioid prescribers, addiction experts, patient groups and industry to effectively combat this problem.  Efforts by Congress and at the state level to legislate the approval or marketing withdrawal of medications is extremely troubling. We look forward to working with Congress and state leaders on preserving access to medications for patients suffering from pain, while addressing a serious public health problem – the inappropriate use of opioids. These are important and complex issues, which will benefit from full and thoughtful public discussion.”

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