Painkillers are opioids which come in many forms that you’ve likely heard of. For instance, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and morphine are a few types that are used to relieve pain. If you’ve had surgery or needed to take painkillers for any reason, then you’ve likely taken opioids. Research has revealed that when opioids are taken according to the precise way that they have been prescribed, they are safe. They will relieve pain and rarely cause an addiction when a patient takes them according to a doctor’s direction.
However, that doesn’t make them entirely harmless, and having one more painkiller on the market creates all the more opportunities for individuals to develop an addiction. Many in drug rehab communities are angry about the recent approval of a new and strong drug, Zohydro ER. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved the drug, an even more powerful prescription painkiller. Zohydro ER is a long-acting formula of the opioid hydrocodone. The short-acting form, more commonly known as Vicodin and Lortab, is already the most prescribed and the most abused drug in the country.
Those who experience chronic pain in their bodies have to resort to taking short acting hydrocodone pills regularly throughout the day. Many patients complain that it’s inconvenient and gets in the way of their daily work schedule. However, Zohydro ER is a new extended-release formula that will relieve them of the need to continue to take pills throughout the day. Furthermore, the new drug does not have acetaminophen, which increases the risk of liver damage. So the new drug will provide steady relief without damaging the liver.
Yet, the truth is the abuse of prescription painkillers has reached epidemic proportions in America. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to half of the nation’s 38,329 drug overdose deaths in 2010 involved painkillers. These narcotics now kill more adults than heroin and cocaine combined. Fortunately, there are also millions of individuals who have avoided harm and death by finding opioid dependency treatment.
Sadly, many of Americans take prescription drugs not according to directions and, in this way, they become vulnerable to the risks of those drugs. Often, drug detox and opiate dependence treatment become necessary. Addictions to opioids are easy to develop, especially after the use of tobacco, alcohol, and/or marijuana on a regular basis. Although there are strict regulations on these powerful drugs in order to prevent harm, abuse, and addiction, developing a dependency to painkillers can clearly continue to happen regardless of the restrictions.
In fact, because of their potential harm, in March of this year, the governor of Massachusetts attempted to ban the drug considering it lethal, but a month later, the manufacturer of Zohydro ER, a company called Zogenix of San Diego, took legal proceedings. A federal judge denied the ban and the case is pending further legal action. Meanwhile, other states are taking action to restrict the use of this powerful painkiller as well as ask the FDA to reconsider its approval.
In the 1990’s and into the 2000’s, there was a series of drug deaths related to the original version of Oxycontin as well as an incredible amount of people seeking drug rehab after finding themselves with an addiction. Oxycontin is now available in an abuse-deterrent formula. However, there are many who are concerned that this drug, early in its release, will have similar effects as the first version of Oxycontin.
Despite the FDA approval Zohydro ER, there were five deaths in the trial of the drug and many participants did not make it through the year of testing the drug. Of those who died, two lost their lives to serious terminal illnesses; one participant committed suicide, one died of a toxic mix of drugs, and another committed suicide 13 months after the study ended. It’s unclear whether the deaths were related to their participation in the study.
Having strong painkillers available to doctors to prescribe is dangerous to the public. Although there are federal restrictions on the drug, opioids continue to contribute to the significant drug addiction problem in America.
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