Pharmaceutical company developing Zohydro, painkiller ten times more powerful than vicodin
Prescription drug abuse is quickly on the rise not only in the United States but throughout the world.
A CDC report in November had revealed around 15,000 Americans die each year from prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin. It is not only adults one in five teens who receive prescription pain killers are also in the overdose numbers.
Substance abuse treatment for pain killers has escalated over 430% within the last decade. This meaning nothing to four pharmaceutical companies who are on their last stages of developing a new type of painkiller which is said to be ten times stronger than Vicodin one of the most commonly abuse painkiller on the market today.
This new painkiller contains a pure version of the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone and having ten times as much medication than highly addictive Vicodin. Zogneix, a pharmaceutical company in San Diego and Emeryville, California, has plans to apply next year to market the drug and have it available in the early part of 2013. The other three pharmaceutical companies, Perdue Pharma, Cephalon and Egalet are developing their own version of a super painkiller according to AP reports.
If this drug received approval, this would be the first time a patient could legally buy hydrocodone in pure form. Currently, Vicodin and Oxycontin both contain hydrocodone as the potent ingredient with Vicodin being mixed with acetaminophen. Hydrocodone is in the family of painkillers known as opiates or opioids which are chemically similar to opium. This family of drugs include oxycodone, heroin, morphine, methadone and codeine.
Physicians, drug addiction experts and advocates have rising concerns over this newly developed painkiller.
April Rovero, President of the Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse had stated “”I have a big concern that this could be the next Oxycontin.” “We just don’t need this on the market.”
In 1955, Purdue Pharma, Stamford, Connecticut, had brought Oxycontin to the market. The drug was developed to manage pain with a formula that trickled one dose of oxycodone over several hours. Drug abuser quickly discovered they could beat the time release by crushing the pills. This had brought about a change in the pills design by Purdue Pharma by changing the formula into a more tamper resistant pill. This did not cut down the addicts who then had moved on to the new drug of choice oxycodone which are not tamper resistant along with other drugs on the market.
The Drug Enforcement Administration states oxycodone is the most abused drug with hydrocodone coming in at second place among annual counts of drug seizures which are sent to police drug labs for analysis. Meanwhile more pharmaceutical companies are competing to get into the $10 billion yearly market for strong and addictive painkillers, opiate narcotics.
According to Peter Jackson, co-founder of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids “Its like the wild west”. “The whole supply-side system is set up to perpetuate this massive unloading of opioid narcotics on the American public.”
This leaving the pharmaceutical companies to have their own valid reasoning for developing these drugs.
Karsten Lindhardt, chief executive of Denmark-based Egalet, which is testing its own pure hydrocodone product reveals their reasoning as “Sometimes you circulate a patient between various opioids, and some may have a better effect than others”.
Then the other reasons include pure hydrocodone drugs would avoid liver problems associated to high doses of acetaminophen used in drugs like vicodin. Patients would also be more closely supervised as they would need to return to their physician to receive more pills. Weaker versions of the drugs such as hydrocodone-acetaminophen products can be refilled for five times.
Zogenix has completed three rounds of patient testing and had a meeting with the FDA last week to discuss its upcoming drug application. They hope to file early next year and have Zohydro on the drug market by the early part of 2013.
Purdue Pharma and Cephalon are conducting late stage trials of their own hydrocodone drug. In May, Purdue Pharma received a patent applying extended-release technology to hydrocodone.
Egalet has finished their preliminary stages of safety testing and may be able to have their product on the drug market as early as 2015. However, they are waiting to see how the other companies success rates with the FDA before going any further.
Those against stronger drugs are concerned because a new narcotic could lead to more murders, pharmacy robberies and millions lost by hospitals in treating overdose victims. Those becoming addicted to these painkillers obtain them legally.
According to the National Institute for Drug Abuse, there are more than 1 million people dependent on opiates in the United States and that number is rising. In part one of the reasons is baby boomers and the elderly are being hooked on these painkillers for chronic pain.
The traditional opiate detox programs success rate is then 20% for the first year and less than that for the second year.
Experts note that most prescription painkillers are unnecessary. The United States makes up 4.6% of the world population but has an 80% consumption rate of opioids and 99% of the world’s hydrocodone, that opiate known as vicodin.
Over 600,000 physicians to podiatrists are license by DEA to prescribe vicodin and the top prescriptions are written by primary care doctors, internists and lastly dentists.
Many pain specialists state that narcotic painkillers should only be used by patients with a terminal illness where addiction is not a concern.
Among the top alternatives for chronic pain include:
Chiropractic is most effective for the relief of chronic pain along with other therapies chiropractic doctors employ such as trigger point therapy. Chiropractic treats chronic pain no matter where the source of the pain is located. It is low risk and drug free.
Acupuncture is also very effective when it comes to treating several diseases and conditions along with chronic pain and can be used to treat arthritis pain, facial pain and more. It has also been noted to help those with drug addictions.
Practitioners in or around Detroit:
A & L Chiropractic Center (and other alternative therapies)
24281 Middlebelt Road
18700 Woodward Avenue
Detroit Community Acupuncture
4100 Woodward Avenue