Concern about New Prescription Pain Medicines

Prescription narcotics were responsible for almost half the total overdose deaths in 2010. Thus,

Many state health officials and advocacy groups were incredulous last fall when the Food and Drug Administration approved an even more powerful prescription painkiller — against the advice of its own expert advisory committee.

Zohydro is an extended-release medication intended for people suffering from chronic pain. It does not contain acetaminophen and therefore will provide steady pain relief without damaging the liver. Though potentially highly addictive, new rules are in place that prevent automatic refills of opioid prescriptions. Advocates point to the need for timed-released medication for patients in severe pain, with more than 100 million Americans who suffer from long-term pain, according to some estimates.

Officials with the FDA said they had an “obligation” to approve new drug options for those individuals who live and suffer with chronic pain. That may, be true but safety and issues about abuse are valid concerns.

Critics claim Zohydro is available in doses up to five times stronger than the largest doses of immediate-release pills. A big issue is it is sold in capsules that can be crushed into doses to be snorted or injected intravenously and it is not available in an abuse-resistant formulation. It also may not serve its intended purpose.

“When you talk to pain specialists in our field, they will all tell you one indisputable fact — opiates are lousy drugs to treat chronic pain,”  according to Dr. Vesna Jevtovic-Todorovic, an anesthesiologist and FDA Committee Member.

A very interesting point, which adds to the controversy over Zohydro approval.

Those that do receive the new drug should be closely monitored during the recommended short period of use.  At the same time, other alternative therapies should be suggested and tried in an effort to provide quality pain treatment. Patients often want the easiest and fastest pain relief and may resist the idea of having to spend time exploring the possibility that physical therapy exercises or yoga may help. Acupuncture can also have amazing results and is highly recommend by many therapists.

Zohydro is a very strong narcotic that recently approved against expert advice. Be aware of the dangers of using this new prescription drug and discuss your concerns with your physician before use.

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