Zohydro: Why Was a Dangerous Painkiller Approved by the FDA?

If you have been following the news the past few weeks, you may have heard that a new painkiller called “Zohydro” has been approved by the FDA. This new formulation of hydrocodone is extremely strong. It is to be used to manage pain in those who need round-the-clock pain treatment that other medications fail to help. This sounds great if you have a chronic pain condition. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that someone in this nation dies every 19 minutes from accidental overdose of prescription medication and professionals from medical doctors to law enforcement are calling prescription drug abuse “epidemic.” Given that landscape, it seems unwise that the FDA has approved a drug that has no anti-abuse measures in its formulation.

The response to the FDA’s approval of this drug has been outrage. Senator Gillibrand (D NY) has challenged the FDA to rethink its approval of Zohydro in its current formulation and 28 state attorneys general have followed suit. Richard Taite, CEO and founder of Cliffside Malibu addiction treatment center agrees. “We stand behind Senator Gillibrand and the state attorneys general who have asked the FDA to reconsider its approval of the hydrocodone formulation Zohydro. This particular formula is extremely potent and lends itself to abuse. We already have an epidemic of prescription medication abuse in this country, with the tragic result of thousands of accidental deaths from overdose each year. This drug is simply not safe for the marketplace because the potential for abuse and death from overdose outweighs its benefits as a painkiller.”

Pain management in those who suffer from severe conditions is important and demands researcher’s attention. At the same time, we have the ability to make painkiller formulations less attractive to those who would abuse them. Zohydro should be kept off the shelves until the public’s safety can be better assured.

About the Author

Constance Scharff, PhD

Constance Scharff, PhD

Constance Scharff has a Ph.D. in Transformative Studies, specializing in addiction recovery. She is the Senior Addiction Research Fellow and Director of Addiction Research at Cliffside Malibu Treatment Center, and co-author of Ending Addiction for Good with Richard Taite.