Controversial new painkiller on the market

Controversial new painkiller on the market

TYLER (KYTX) - A powerful new painkiller called Zohydro is stirring up controversy. It's hydrocodone in a pure and much stronger form. It's meant for patients in extreme chronic pain, but critics worry about abuse and addiction. 

The FDA approved it in October, and it became available to pharmacies this month.

Zohydro is finally available, but ordering it isn't so easy. It's extremely potent, so it comes with a lot of restrictions. Plus, once a patient orders it, it doesn't go on the back shelves with the other hydrocodone. It's actually locked up until the patient comes and picks it up in person. 

"It is a time release capsule which is meant to release over a 12-hour period," says Drug Emporium Pharmacist David Davis.

Davis says Zohydro was made for a small percentage of chronic pain patients who can't get relief from regular strength pain killers.

It comes in pills ranging from 10 to 50 milligrams. That 50 milligram dose is the one critics are most worried about. It's the strongest dose of hydrocodone anyone has ever seen before, and in the purest form.

"It is a concern, especially if it ends up in the wrong hands, if it ends up in the streets, potentially in the hands of teenagers, someone who has no idea how potent it is, no idea how addictive and how lethal it could be if used inappropriately," Davis says.

Experts say a child could overdose on just one pill, and an adult who isn't used to painkillers, could overdose on just two.

Even if taken in the prescribed doses, chemical abuse counselor Marcus Wade says Zohydro can be extremely addictive. He says a lot of that weight will fall on health care professionals like himself. 

"I'm an advocate of treating a person with pain. When you're dealing with pain and addiction you have to begin to tell them you're going to be monitoring them. Make sure they're not doctor hopping, pharmacy hopping," Wade says.

He says the key to this powerful drug is monitoring it carefully, and educating the public.

"It's about what are we going to set in place, a protocol to ensure overall safety. Educate people and their families so they can keep it out of the reach of children," Wade says.

This will help pain patients get the medication they need, without adding to painkiller addiction and abuse.

Normal hydrocodone is called a "schedule three" prescription, meaning ordering it is less restrictive. 

Zohydro is a "schedule two" medication. You can't call, fax or email it in, and have to fill out a special form for it. This will all help prevent some abuse.

The drug's maker says that a seven member safety board will be monitoring data from patients, doctors and pharmacists to detect signs of abuse.

To learn more about Zohydro, click here.




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