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Drug Companies Developing More Powerful Version of Hydrocodone


Four drug companies are developing a more powerful version of the painkiller hydrocodone. One group dedicated to fighting prescription drug abuse is concerned this new drug has a large potential for abuse.

The new drug is pure hydrocodone, and contains up to 10 times the amount found in Vicodin, the Associated Press reports. Drugs currently on the market combine hydrocodone with nonaddictive painkillers such as acetaminophen, the article notes.

One company, Zogenix, plans to apply to the Food and Drug Administration early this year to market its new drug, Zohydro. It is a timed-release drug designed to manage moderate to severe pain. Opponents of the drug say they are concerned the drug could be crushed to release an immediate, intense high.

“I have a big concern that this could be the next OxyContin,” said April Rovero, President of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. “We just don’t need this on the market.”

Companies developing the new drug say it could avoid liver problems that can be caused by high doses of acetaminophen found in current hydrocodone products. They also note patients will have to visit their doctor every time they need more medication. Current hydrocodone products can be refilled up to five times.

10 Responses to this article

  1. Ben House / January 9, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    John D. is correct about blaming is only adding to the problem. I am not so confident big pharm is always holding the patient as the priority I think they could. Mostly what I see here is pain management limited to pharmacology rather than the multitude of other modalities that could be used in combination.

  2. Avatar of John Derry
    John Derry / January 6, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    It is all too convenient to blame and criticize “the pharmaceutical industry” with a broad brushed conspiracy theory tone. If your mother was in hospital being treated for a potentially fatal disease, you would give thanks for the newest medication that affords the possibility of relief or treatment with the least possible adverse effects. If you were diagnosed with HIV infection, you would praise ‘the pharmaceutical industry’ for the newest antiretroviral that gives you the newest hope of increased survival with optimal quality of life.
    It is tiresome to keep hearing blame heaped on the pharmaceutical industry, citing the evil dollar as the culprit. Since when was profitable business wrong in our society? Where do you think these medical advances and understanding come from?
    Time to stop blaming and pointing fingers. Remember the old saying: when you’re pointing your finger at someone or something else, you have three pointing back at yourself.

  3. james gregory / January 5, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    There will always be those people that abuse drugs. Alcohol is a drug that is totally legal and it kills more people each than pain pills, cocaine, heroin, exstacy and meth. It’s a real shame that the people that abuse the system in turn makes it a real nightmare for those who suffer from ligitemate pain. I am disabled with injuries from my neck to my toes with acute chronic pain. I am currently seeing a new doctor who is so leary of potential abusers that I am under a microscope. Again it makes me sick that alcohol as deadly as it is is sold on every corner without a prescription. I say sell the stuff like booze and the people will die like the suffering alcoholics and the ones that take it as recommended will survive. Bottom line it’s all about the almighty dollar, a damn racket from insurance companies, drug companys and Politicians. Makes me want to Puke. Good day!

  4. Avatar of Carla Boysen
    Carla Boysen / January 4, 2012 at 10:31 am

    There are many people who become addicted to these pain killers who do not start out as a addict but have chronic pain but find themselves addicted to these drugs after they no longer should be taking them. This why they have a concern in what is in these drugs.

  5. compassion / January 3, 2012 at 2:56 pm

    People in horrible pain need this! Because of the same thinking, the dying who are suffering horribly can’t get heroin in the US. Have some compassion – just because there are abusers, it should not keep the innocent writhing in uncontrolled pain or destroying their liver – that is simply wrong.

  6. Bill Poel / January 3, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    The last thing the world needs is a more potent opiate pain medication. At face value, the potential for abuse appears high. For the drug companies it’s all about profits. There is no thought about the potential negative ramifications.

  7. DrJJMD / January 3, 2012 at 1:24 pm

    Hydrocodone is being produced as an extended release formulation. However, hydrocodone alone, without APAP (acetaminophen/Ibuprofen etc.) is a C-II drug that CANNOT be refilled but rather must be filled every 30 days like all C-II products such as morphine, oxycodone, etc. The formulations that I am currently aware of are sustained release formulations that would release hydrocodone over an extended period of time. Like ALL opioids it can be abused but like ALL opioids it is strictly regulated by the DEA, local state law enforcement etc.

    As for limiting the amount of APAP (acetaminophen) in Hydrocodone preparations, that is strictly a harm reduction approach for patients requiring daily doses and also for individuals who have a substance abuse problem with hydrocodone and take “40″ tablets/day. Though this is sad and whoever takes 40 hydrocodone tablets per day is in desperate need of help; whether buprenorphine/methadone detox, maintenance or residential treatment, it would cause the individual’s liver to have a chance to be saved rather than destroyed by the acetaminophen in hydrocodone products. As for Hydrocodone Extended Release, it is good news for ALL palliative care physicians and the patients they treat for chronic pain as it adds to doctors’ armamentaria in treating patients with chronic pain!

  8. karen / January 3, 2012 at 12:34 pm

    this sounds like overkill

  9. karen / January 3, 2012 at 12:32 pm

    what we have on the market is already strong enough to kill. why sell anything stronger? isn’t oxycontin free of acetaminophen?

  10. Avatar of Tina
    Tina / January 5, 2012 at 1:41 pm

    I believe there should be compassion but as Carla says, too many people are soon addicted and I am glad that there is concern. I believe in natural herbs than these so called pills to help liver problems…my brother had a bad liver and took natural herbal remedies and healed his liver…doctors were amazed. Then his ex girlfriend gave him over two doses of her prescription morphine and he drove to his death…I believe people are abusing the system so much that they are affecting people that really need it because we have need stiffer laws for prescription abuse such as this ex girlfriend who already has up to 48 prescriptions prescribed…That is why I am on this site, for some peace of mind and to help others families from getting hurt, and to relay my story worldwide.

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