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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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  • wwlpreader

    Nice try but addicts will find ways to get the drug out of state or other means. Harsh realities of the addiction in this area!

    • Rick

      So you’re saying lets just make it easier for them and stock it here so they can rob our Pharmacies in Mass for it? Just like they do now for other forms of oxy? And the idea Tylenol is in any way helping the addicts stop taking it is crazy, because it doesn’t deter them at all.

      • wwlpreader

        Absolutely not! It should only be administered in a hospital. Everywhere!

  • Lily

    and what about the ppl who truly need pain medication? what about the ppl who take them as prescribed and follow every rule set by the doctors and pharmacists? should they suffer because addicts give them a bad name? while I agree there is a serious problem with addiction to medications there has to be a better way to help those that truly need it.

    • Bill

      There are many pain killers available to replace oxycontin in any form. This and Oxy are NOT PAIN KILLERS, they just make you so high you don’t care about the pain. It is synthetic heroin, nothing more.

      • alpinequeen

        Repeating yourself doesn’t validate your erroneous statements.

        • Bill

          Being an idiot doesn’t validate anything you write.

        • Please Enetrur Name

          Repeating yourself doesn’t validate your erroneous statements.

          • alpinequeen

            Yes, Mr. Bill, it will be okay Mr. Bill, don’t worry Mr. Bill. They’re coming for you now.

  • Michael Schubert

    Now that you have read the same completely false, regurgitated story started by Zohydro’s competetor’s allies, I will present you with the truth, backed up by scientific facts and not by someone who might be receiving donations by drug manufacturers. I challenge anybody to prove me wrong scientifically.
    First of all, out of all the extended release opiate pain medicines on the market, Hydrocodone, the main ingredient in Zohydro, is the LEAST POTENT milligram for milligram. This can easily be verified by looking at an opiate conversion chart, such as here: http://www.globalrph.com/narcotic.htm . I found it shocking to read so many articles, many of which were commented on by doctors, that failed to use proper drug comparisons. Oxycodone is almost twice as strong as hydrocodone, which means Zohydro is a much weaker substitute for oxycodone (which is already on the market). The anti-Zohydro groups need to pay attention and understand the significance of this truth. Every Zohydro prescription will take the place of a more potent opiate. Wouldn’t doctors want to start patients that need opiate therapy on the least potent med first? Another potent opiate, generic oxymorphone is widely available without abuse-deterrent features and much, much cheaper than Zohydro. Oxymorphone is approximately twice as potent as oxycodone. It is more lipophilic than morphine, allowing for a faster onset of action. It is available as an injection and as oral formulations: immediate-release (Opana) and sustained-release (Opana ER). Because it has a longer half-life than morphine, hydromorphone, and oxycodone, the immediate-release product may be dosed at longer intervals (up to every six hours).
    According to USA Today, Opana overtook oxycontin as the painkiller most abused in the U.S. I would assume that the activists who are protesting Zohydro would protest these much more potent drugs before complaining about Zohydro.
    Read about Opiate medications here from US PHARMACIST: http://www.uspharmacist.com/continuing_education/ceviewtest/lessonid/105473/
    Morphine, which is available in strengths up to 200mg and DOES NOT have abuse-deterrent features, must be one of the alternative medicines they are talking about. Morphine is 3 TIMES MORE POTENT WHEN INJECTED. So crushing a 200mg Extended Release Morphine tablet and injecting it would be just like taking 600mg orally!!! According to the math in the article, this would KILL SIX PEOPLE. Any mention of Extended Release Morphine without tamper-resistant features? What about hydrocodone? Per US PHARMACIST, “Hydrocodone is only available in combination with non-opioids. Compared with codeine, it provides significantly more pain relief and a longer duration of action. Hydrocodone is a prodrug metabolized by CYP2D6, with analgesic effects dependent on its active metabolite hydromorphone.” Hydrocodone needs to pass through the liver to create the active metabolite, injecting or snorting does not create a “rush” because the active metabolite has not been created yet. Other drugs such as Vyvanse use this method to PREVENT abuse. Ever wonder why legitimate medical injectable hydrocodone has never been on the market? Because it needs to pass through the liver first. An addict injecting hydrocodone would still get high, but no “rush” like from injecting morphine, oxycodone or oxymorphone.
    So why did the advisory board vote against this? They were tasked with determining its SAFETY WHEN TAKEN AS DIRECTED AND EFFECTIVENESS. During the hearing, the FDA could be heard numerous times telling this advisory board to get back to their task, not giving opinions that were not their jobs. Abuse deterrent features can be defeated ridiculously easy, google “OxyContin microwave”. The FDA has recently stated that it does no good to label something abuse deterrent if it does not do that, and it does absolutely nothing to stop the far most common route they abuse it, taking the drug ORALLY INTACT. Zoeller failed to mention the other strengths of Zohydro. It comes in 10,15,20, 30 & 40 milligram strengths also, and is released OVER THE COURSE OF 12 hours. So instead of taking one or two hydrocodone/APAP pills every 4 hours, the Zohydro patient takes ONE every 12 hours. One monthly prescription for 60 Zohydro pills replaces 360 hydrocodone/APAP pills!!!!
    So why are people like Sen Manchin of West Virginia trying so hard to get Zohydro off the market? Let’s see, The political charge against Zohydro is currently led by Senator Joe Manchin (D-WVA), who is the father of Heather Manchin Bresch. Ms. Bresch is the CEO of Mylan (MYL), which coincidentally manufactures generic hydrocodone – a direct competitor to Zohydro. Is this not a conflict worthy of our attention? Mylan Pharmaceuticals also happens to be Manchin’s #2 campaign contributor! Source: https://www.opensecrets.org/politicians/summary.php?cid=N00032838
    Mylan sells Hydrocodone/APAP, ONE OF THEIR TOP SELLERS, and would lose significant market share to Zohydro. A United States Senator has significant political pull, notice how no other opiate (especially hydrocodone/APAP!) was under scrutiny even though some like Fentanyl are mixed with heroin and is 300 times more potent than hydrocodone? Mylan makes those opiate medications! Also Purdue makes $600MILLION per quarter from OxyContin and would lose major market share to Zohydro. Purdue makes political contributions, funds patient advocacy groups and hires teams of medical professionals as consultants.
    What about Zohydro? No one mentioned that Zogenix provides a locking pill bottle, an extremely inexpensive medicine safe ($15), and a subscription to Pain Patient Magazine (includes tips how to manage pain, safeguard medications, monitor medicine intake, etc). How many other drug companies include items like these with their opiate prescriptions? NONE! So by taking this off the market, these officials, reporters, crusaders, etc would rather have pain patients such as MYSELF take more potent medicines that don’t include items to safeguard my prescription? After reading all the FACTS above, and checking them out yourself, why do you think the real reason certain individuals want Zohydro, the least potent extended release opiate that includes ways to safeguard the medicine, off the market?!?

    • Bill

      Oxy is heroin, nothing more. The potency is irrelevant.

      • alpinequeen

        Thoust nay idea what ye art talking about.

  • 32 MuddyPaws

    Please tell me they are not so obtuse as to believe this drug will stay out of MA because they drew a line in the sand. It is probably already here. If not, it will be soon – available on every street corner – but with this ban to protect addicts from themselves, it won’t be helping anyone who lives with chronic, debilitating pain day in and day out.

    • Grand Master Rob

      So you’re saying lets just make it easier for them and stock it here so they can rob our Pharmacies in Mass for it? Just like they do now for other forms of oxy?