A new painkiller called Zohydro was recently approved by the FDA despite many protests and advisories against the drug in the fall of 2013. This drug is to be more powerful than current painkillers on the market. Because prescription painkiller drug abuse is the leading cause of overdose and drug addiction in the United States, another painkiller (especially one which is to be more powerful) is likely to cause more addiction, more overdose and more death.
What is Zohydro ER
Zohydro is an opioid painkiller made of pure hydrocodone. One dosage can last up to twelve hours. The purpose of the drug is to manage severe chronic pain which alternate painkillers are inadequate to treat. Unlike other painkillers, Zohydro is not combined with additives such as niacin and naloxone. Both niacin and naloxone cause unwanted side effects when they are snorted through the nose, as many incorrectly used painkillers are.
Zohydro is going to be so powerful that a person new to narcotics could overdose with just two pills. A child who accidently gets into his parents’ medicine cabinet could overdose with just one pill. A painkiller addict may be able to handle more than two pills before overdosing since they have built up a resiliency to painkillers, but it’s likely that addicts will underestimate the power of Zohydro and overdose as well.
Is Zohydro Needed by Patients
Zohydro is supposed to be more powerful than other painkillers on the market because it is pure hydrocodone. An argument for the legalization of Zohydro is that it will be less harmful because it does not contain acetaminophen like Vicodin and some other painkillers. Acetaminophen can be harmful to the liver.
There are other painkillers, which do not contain acetaminophen that are not as strong or as dangerous as Zohydro. Because Zohydro is so strong it is likely to be more addictive than other drugs on the market. Zohydro does not seem to be filling a void in the prescription painkiller library.
The Dangers of Prescription Addiction
Prescription drug addiction is the leading addiction in the United States. Prescription drug overdose is the leading cause of preventable deaths in the United States and prescription drug abuse is the leading cause of increased heroin use in the United States.
Three out of four drug overdose deaths are due in a large part to prescription painkillers. Prescription drug abuse is not just occurring on the black market either. The largest percentage of all prescription drug addicts are middle-aged men and women who have obtained a prescription through their doctor for chronic pain.
Nearly sixty percent of all drug overdose deaths are due to prescription painkillers. Many of the overdoses are done by people who are using the drug legally. Prescription drug abuse tends to lead to other types of drug abuse when a prescription cannot be renewed and the drug addict cannot function without the drug. Heroin use in the United States is on the rise for this reason.
The government recently increased regulations regarding prescription drug abuse in an attempt to prevent and stop prescription abuse. Lawmakers assumed that the increased regulations would cause people to give up the habit. Lawmakers did not foresee prescription addicts switching to heroin once prescription pills were unavailable instead of quitting.
Bringing another drug onto an already epidemic level drug abuse scene will not help. A drug that is more potent, easier to take and has less side effects will lead to more addiction, more overdose and more death. As long as prescription drugs are prescribed for pain, prescription addiction will continue to be a problem.