A new opiate called Zohydro, developed by Zogenix and approved by the FDA, will enter California markets this month, despite the protests of a number of doctors and experts. Zohydro is ten times more potent than Vicodin.
According to the manufacturers of the drug (who have issued a "responsibility statement"), it is intended for "the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate."
Made with only pure hydrocodone and no Tylenol or acetaminophen, the pill is easily crushed, making it easier to abuse. According to Dr. Jim Keany of St. Joseph's Hospital in Orange County, one pill could kill an infant.
"Other drugs are mixed with Tylenol and nobody wants to inject all that Tylenol because they know it will wipe out their liver. So the fact that this has no Tylenol, it's the perfect drug of abuse for drug users," Keany said.
In the midst of a severe drug addiction epidemic fueled by overprescribing of opioids, the last thing the country needs is a new, dangerous, high-dosage opioid.
Particularly at a time when over 50 percent of drug abusers get pills from doctors and friends, the FDA seems poised for fiercer monitoring. The United States consumes over 84% of the world's oxycodone supply, and 99% of its hydrocodone supply.
According to Zogenix's site, the drug comes with a warning that counts "addiction; abuse and misuse; life-threatening respiratory depression; accidental exposure; and neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome," as well as fatalities when combined with alcohol, among its list of potential side effects.