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New painkiller Zohydro could invite trouble

Updated: Friday, February 28 2014, 05:40 PM EST

WTOV9.com

 

A new prescription drug on the market could trigger more drug use problems and overdoses because of how strong it really is.

Zohydro, a hydrocodone-based painkiller that is high in potency, will hit the market next month. It can mostly be compared to Vicodin, though it comes in a number of different strengths that are five-to-10 times the power of Vicodin. That makes it the most potent product on the market.

 As a result, it’s causing a lot of backlash from consumer groups, which claim that this drug has no deterrent to keep from being abused. This is what pharmacists call a Schedule II drug (or C2), which means you are not allowed automatic refills. You have to see the physician for each and every refill.

 

“(Many painkillers) are mixed with acetaminophen and they all are allowed to have up to five refills in six months,” Tri-State Pharmacy’s J.J. Bernabei said. “So when you look at it that way, I think that will control diversion a little bit by having it C2.”

The FDA just passed an opinion saying all hydrocodone products should be Schedule II so none of them will have automatic refills.

“The flipside of that is it’s a twice-a-day formulation,” Bernabei said. “It will allow extended pain relief for people that have interactive or chronic pain. It’s a huge market for that.”

Bernabei said we are in a state that ranks high in the amount of drug abuse and overdose deaths. He says 25-30 percent of the population through their 40s have chronic pain, and they have to treat it.

“There shouldn’t be any new drugs that come to market without some type of deterrent formulation,” Bernabei said. “That same company that makes Zohydro says they have that in the works but they won’t bring it to market for another three years.”

The cost of Zohydro is about $7 per capsule, and it doesn’t matter the strength. So treatment with the drug is going to be about $15 per day, which is $450 a month. The average hydrocodone script is around $50.  

 

New painkiller Zohydro could invite trouble


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