An FDA advisory panel raised hopes last week that the next prescription drug abuse problem never happens.
The panel voted overwhelmingly against approving a new painkiller in development, Zohydro, which is a pure form of hydrocodone said to be 10 times more powerful than Vicodin.
Most of the 400 painkillers currently available in the United States contain a powerful narcotic, such as hydrocodone or oxycodone, mixed with a less powerful drug, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Zohydro would be the first pure formulation of hydrocodone, if it were to be approved.
The panel expressed concerns about the potential for abuse of the drug, and those sentiments echo the concerns we have heard from local health professionals, law enforcement officers and government officials, since we began reporting on the proposed new drug 11 months ago. Those we talked to express worries that the new drug would be even more addictive than what is currently available, and would to higher rates over abuse and death.
Those worries are likely well founded. Studies have shown that pure forms of oxycodone have a 3-to-4 times greater rate of abuse than medications like Oxycontin, which combine oxycodone with other, less powerful medicines.
However, last Friday’s vote is not the end of the line for Zohydro. The FDA is not expected to finish its review of the drug until March 1, and the agency could still give it approval, although the panel’s vote makes it less likely.
Until that time, it is up to consumers, officials and other interested parties to continue to make their concerns about a potentially dangerous new drug known.
— The Floyd County Times