PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A new pain killer has gotten FDA approval.
It’s called Zohydro. It’s the narcotic hydrocodone that is designed to be released over 12 hours.
But some disapprove.
“This medication should not be out there,” says Dr. Jack Kabazie, a pain specialist at West Penn Hospital.
The advisory panel to the FDA recommended against approval of Zohydro 11-2.
It’s unusual for the FDA to go against an advisory panel, but it did, and approved the new medicine last fall, adding to the several other similar extended-release pain killers on the market.
Crushing or chewing the extended release drug, intentionally or accidentally, could flood your body with medicine. For someone who doesn’t usually take narcotics, this could be deadly.
In contrast, Oxycontin, another pain killer, loses its effects if its extended-release coating is disturbed.
Other concerns for Zohydro — addiction and abuse.
“I have no doubt it will have a street value at some point in time,” says Dr. Kabazie.
Hydrocodone is found in other pain killers like Vicodin, Lortab and Norco. It’s combined with acetaminophen, though, and too much can damage the liver. With a push to be more careful about how much acetaminophen people take, there’s been a push for painkillers without it.
Despite the controversy, Dr. Kabazie has had patients with chronic pain from cancer and other causes asking for it.
“Everybody wants to try something brand new,” he says.
Physician groups and addiction advocacy groups are calling for the FDA to reverse its decision.
“If we cannot get the FDA to rescind the release of this medication, we can at least get health care providers to at least not prescribe it,” says Dr, Kabazie.