14
Search AOL Mail
AOL Mail
Video
Video
AOL Favorites
Favorites
Menu

States revolt against powerful new painkiller

States-Painkillers

BARRE, Vt. (AP) -- State officials fighting a well-publicized battle against heroin and prescription drug abuse are revolting against a powerful new painkiller that law enforcement and public health officials fear could worsen an already acute drug problem.

On Thursday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin announced an emergency order that would make it harder for physicians to prescribe a new class of drugs that includes Zohydro. Many feel the extended-release pill is prone to abuse, because it's not tamper resistant and contains up to five times more of the narcotic hydrocodone than previously available in other pills.

The Food and Drug Administration approved the drug last fall and it hit the market last month.

Shumlin didn't go as far as Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick, who last week ordered an outright ban on prescribing and dispensing Zohydro until it is marketed in a form that is difficult to abuse. But Shumlin and Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Harry Chen both questioned the FDA approval.

"It's not like we don't have painkillers in America," Shumlin said. "So you know, we're just saying `Hey, we understand we don't control the FDA, but we do have some influence in Vermont,'" he said.

Prescription drug abuse is the nation's fastest growing drug problem with more than 4.5 million Americans abusing pain relievers, according to a 2013 Drug Enforcement Administration report.

Law enforcement and public health officials say for many people, prescription painkiller abuse can pave the way to heroin addiction. In January, Shumlin devoted the bulk of his State of the State address to Vermont's "full blown heroin crisis."

The backlash against Zohydro has been growing since last year, when the FDA approved the drug against the recommendation of an internal advisory committee.

Late last year, 28 state attorneys general signed a letter asking the FDA to revoke the drug's approval or require the manufacturer to reformulate the drug so it is more difficult for abusers to crush for snorting or injection.

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., and Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., introduced legislation that would compel the FDA to withdraw the drug.

Zohydro belongs to a family of medicines known as opiates or opioids. Others include morphine, heroin and oxycodone, the painkiller in OxyContin.

Its painkilling power comes from hydrocodone. Other medications, such as Vicodin, contain the same narcotic but also include acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol.

San Diego-based Zogenix, which makes Zohydro, said the drug is no more potent, per milligram, than other hydrocodone medications. The company also said it set up a board of experts to guard against abuse and that its sales representatives are not being paid based on the volume, but rather on their efforts to ensure prescribers, pharmacists and patients understand the medication's risks and benefits.

The FDA said Zohydro meets its standards and provides an important treatment option for patients with chronic pain. The agency, which in 2010 approved a crush-resistant version of OxyContin to try to discourage abuse, also points out that abuse-deterrent formulations of Zohydro are in the early stages of development.

Shumlin said he chose strict regulation over an outright ban, at least in part to avoid what could be expensive litigation.

"I expect that Massachusetts is likely to confront that and we really wanted to get something done quickly," Shumlin said.

Vermont's emergency rule to prescribe Zohydro includes requirements that prescribers conduct a thorough medical evaluation and risk assessment.

---

Associated Press reporter Wilson Ring in Montpelier, Vt., contributed to this report.

© 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Learn more about our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.

Join the discussion

1000|Char. 1000  Char.
jjdp April 04 2014 at 12:50 PM

I have chronic pain and am I take 4 mg. of Dilaudid 4 times a day sometimes they work for the whole 6 hrs. often times they do not. I figure just because they don't work does,nt mean I have to take more. It's not prescribed like that. I should elaborate on the reason I'm on these, 1988 I broke my neck. 4 months in a Halo Vest, Iwas able to return to work. November 20th, 2007 I was in an auto accident, this time not so lucky Iam now Quadraplegic with C-6 & 7 complete injury. I DO NOT ABUSE my painkillers. they only take away half of my pain on a good day. Iwant them to work when I need them most. That's why Idon't abuse them.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
oldmandowntown2 April 04 2014 at 12:50 PM

I don't know why any company would waste the time and money, to develop any new pain killer drug. The reason I say this is around here where I live in Ohio, it practically impossible to get your doctor to prescribe any good pain killers. An they all claim the same lame excuse, that they are addictive. They don't care how much pain your in, even if you have tears in your eyes from so much pain. I don't want to get addicted to drugs, but I sure don't want to go 24/7 in severe pain either. The pain pills they want to prescribe, is not much better than over the counter meds. I recently had a bad case of shingles in my right hip and leg, and my idiot doctor want to prescribe perocet. I told him that aspirin would give me more pain relief than that. He refused so he is no longer my doctor. About the only way they will prescribe any type of good pain meds, is if your dying and then in low dosages. So I don't understand why everybody is so upset about this new pain killer, doctors won't prescribe it to you anyway.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
1 reply
slackwarerobert oldmandowntown2 April 04 2014 at 3:01 PM

Then you didn't get the really good stuff.
I got 3 pills and had absolutely NO pain, I could have gone and ran a marathon.
because of the government I could not get TWO more to get me through the weekend so I could go to a wedding.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Hi Lynn ~UrAdoll April 04 2014 at 12:57 PM

All I want is for them to bring back Darvocet (and NOT the generic kind). That is the one and only medicine that I could take for the chronic pain I'm in which includes fibro, senile osteoporosis, osteo and rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease, and chronic bursitis in my elbows, knees, and hips. CDC can't even say if they removed it from problems with the generic (which I could not even take) and the regular - all they want to do is make more drug addicts.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
3 replies
jen April 04 2014 at 1:08 PM

let the sick have their medication. they shouldn’t have to live in pain because someone else doesn’t have enough self control. addicts will never go away.

Flag Reply +15 rate up
2 replies
ksnowkat133 jen April 04 2014 at 1:16 PM

I agree.. When people are suffering from real pain they cannot live a normal life or as normal as you can get,.
Who are the ones to tell an 70 to 80 year old what to put in their body? My Mother before she passed was in great pain and then it was simple to get her pain medication. Now I understand that many older people are being treated like criminals and sent to Pain Management Clinics where they tell them no more pain medication. It is the Physicians in the 1st place that prescribed the medication. Then to take it away is wrong because these kids have gotten into their Gran Parents and Parents medicine cabinets.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
kathi.thompson1 jen April 04 2014 at 1:17 PM

It has NOTHING to do with self control! I am an intellgient, college educated mother and grandmother. I have RA and was prescribed pain medication for that. I became addicted. I am now in recovery but I know first hand that it happens and not just to old drunks and bums. Educate yourself a little better so you don't come off sounding like a heartless moron!

Flag Reply +2 rate up
3 replies
Jack Hill April 04 2014 at 12:41 PM

If people keep abusing pain Med's , and keep overdosing , I wonder if anyone with chronic pain will be able to get em. thats unfair .

Flag Reply +8 rate up
mahafner April 04 2014 at 12:40 PM

The problem is the abusers and illegal issues. Anyone who experiences chronic, severe pain and who need the pain killers are the ones that are being denied them. I must jump through hoops, sign agreements with the Drs. office and give up my first born to get the meds I need. Maybe I should try illegal avenues. It might be easier!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
steve April 04 2014 at 12:34 PM

Seems punishing abusers is more important than caring for those in pain. stopping the sale of these pills is easier and cheaper than enforcement but the innocent suffer when you take the easy way out.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
packard54 steve April 04 2014 at 12:55 PM

That just depends just WHO the innocent are, Steve. How about the families of the abusers, or better yet, the ones who suffer at knifepoint OR gunpoint by the abuser trying to get the money to buy this drug. And going further, the drive-by dead who get in the way of gangs as they try to "guard their territory". A drug like this should only be perscribed in emergencies and ANY doctor who hands this drug out like candy should lose their medical license and do maximum jail time. No excuses!

Flag Reply 0 rate up
1 reply
junkers388 packard54 April 04 2014 at 1:33 PM

A statement that can only be made by someone who doesn't live with chronic pain. Unfortunately, you'll only understand when you to get cancer or something bad happens to your health. I bet you never give a second thought to anything you do. If i sweep my floor I have to stop and weigh it against the amount of pain it will cause. If I get asked to the movies, my first thought is will it be worth the pain. If I want to cook dinner, I have to weigh if I'm hungry enough to put up with the pain it will cause to do it. Everything you take for granted, even house work, I wish I could do. Is it fair I have to suffer because some people break the law? Just like felons don't buy their guns in a gun shop, most drug addicts don't sit for hours in a doctor's office. For one, these days, unless you have cancer or severe injury, no doctor is going to write the prescription. ANY decent doctor can look at you and see your level of pain and usually, whether you're an abuser. Plus, if I'm getting my medication from my doctor, why would I purchase them on the street or rob someone for money for my legal prescription. Hopefully, you'll never have to learn why people in chronic pain need such strong pain killers. But, thankfully, they are available to those that really need them. Without them, I would have to live out the rest of my days in horrible, traumatizing pain and immobile. With them, I can at least be part of the living. You don't know how happy it makes me to just be able to do stuff like cook, go for a walk, sit on my front porch, go for a ride in a car or even pick up around my house. Things you probably do everyday and take for granted. GOD BLESS the people out there who are trying to develop drugs to improve people's lives like mine.

Flag +4 rate up
lovegrooming April 04 2014 at 12:24 PM

if people take the meds as prescribed and try to do other things to help with the pain. they are less likely to become addicted .Im speaking from experience. ive been on a pain killer for a number of years for chronic pain .I only take it wen the pain keeps me from doing what I want to do. tou can do it too.

Flag Reply +8 rate up
1 reply
sgregg38 lovegrooming April 04 2014 at 12:32 PM

I agree. Ive been on pain meds. for years. i take them how they are subscribed and no more. They shouldnt blame the medicine, blame the stupid people that abuse it.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
1 reply
sworth5487 sgregg38 April 04 2014 at 1:05 PM

Blame the greedy people who create the drugs for profit. there should be a limit on how many years any pain medication can be prescribed/taken. Prescribing pills is cheaper on the healthcare system than actually treating the problem in other ways, i.e., physical therapy, psychiatry, etc., anything that costs more than medication. Malingerers on SS Disability (most younger than retirement age) are draining the system dry because of addiction, not senior citizens who worked all their lives and earned those benefits. The former know how to "play the system" to get those checks every month without doing anything to earn them except snort and light up a joint.

Flag 0 rate up
jajumpmaster15 April 04 2014 at 1:03 PM

I AM A EX POLICE OFFICER AND DIABLED DUE TO SURGERY THAT WENT BAD . THE NERVE DAMAGE IS ACUTE . A PAIN MANAGEMENT GROUP TOLD ME IN THE NORTH GA AREA . THAT THEY ARE A 0 NARCOTIC PAIN GROUP .AND STARTED PUSHING THINGS THAT WOULD CAUSE DAMAGE DUE TO OTHER HEALTH PROBLEMS . WHEN I ASKED WHAT TO DO AFTER MAKING SURE THAT THE OUT OF STATE DOC. HIRED BY A LARGE PAIN GROUP . HE SAID WE ARE NOT FRIENDS AND I DO NOT CARE. I HAVE BEEN DEALING WITH THIS PROBLEM FOR 20 YEARS .
AND BECAUSE I DO EVERYTHING THE RIGHT WAY THE MED COMMUNITY HAS MY HISTORY .
BUT NOW I AN TREATED LIKE A ADDICT BECAUSE I DONOT FIT THEIR POLIT. CORRECT WAY .
I CAN NOT HELP HOW MY BODY HURTS AND IT IS TIME THAT JUST BECAUSE WE DO THAT WE GET TREATED LIKE WE ARE LESS THAN HUMAN . I AM HUMAN AND I AM TIRED OF BEING TREATED LIKE THE DRUG DEALER JUST BECAUSE EVERYONE KNOWS I WILL DO IT RIGHT .
THAT IS WRONG !!!! I DO NOT WANT OTHERS TO HURT BUT GET YOUR NOSE OUT OF MY PAIN.!!!!!!!

Flag Reply +12 rate up
5 replies
fostermcll April 04 2014 at 12:22 PM

I am a disabled health care worker. People don't understand that sometimes pain drugs are the only answer . People tend to only think of abuse and addiction. If you have Cancer or severe chronic pain who cares if you are addicted. People also don't know you can die from the stress of pain. Just sayin.....

Flag Reply +11 rate up
aol~~ 1209600

Voting...

More From Our Partners