Why Did the FDA Approve a New High-Dose Opioid Medication?

Despite intense concern from the medical community, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved for release a new high-dose narcotic painkiller, called Zohydro ER. It is the very first opioid medication to contain only hydrocodone and will contain as much as ten times more of the addictive substance than similar drugs, such as Vicodin.

While the medication is designed to break down slowly over time, releasing small amounts of hydrocodone into the user’s system – the “ER” stands for extended release – it is not tamper-resistant or abuse-proof. That is, those who want to experience the full effect of the hydrocodone dose can simply crush it before swallowing or snorting the medication. The FDA did not make it mandatory for drug producers to include anti-abuse technology at this time.

With the high rates of prescription drug abuse and drug dependence across the country and the great lengths that law enforcement and the medical community have gone to in order to limit the rate of overdose and addiction as a result, it seems counterproductive. Many are asking why the FDA would make such a move given the current problem of opiate addiction in the US.

Hydrocodone Abuse

Hydrocodone-based medications are a big part of the painkiller abuse and addiction problem. They are very often abused even by those who have a legitimate prescription, and they are exceedingly dangerous and incredibly addictive. In most cases, only a certain percentage of each pill is hydrocodone; these medications are very often combined with other non-addictive pain relief drugs like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Even in this less intense state, they are extremely dangerous, which is why this new, full-power version of the drug is so worrisome.

Dangers of Abusing Hydrocodone

The risks and effects of hydrocodone abuse in any form can include any of the following:

  • Low blood pressure
  • Drowsiness and impaired ability to operate a motor vehicle or heavy machinery
  • Dizziness
  • Vomiting
  • Decreased heart rate
  • Decreased lung functioning
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Mental confusion
  • Changes in vision
  • Headaches
  • Kidney problems
  • Anxiety
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Addiction
  • Overdose
  • Coma
  • Brain damage
  • Death

Alternatives to Painkillers

Chronic pain management is very often the gateway to prescription drug dependence. As a result, doctors are becoming more and more cautious about prescribing hefty medications for this purpose on an ongoing basis. Patients are often encouraged to utilize non-medication options in order to augment their pain management and limit the risks related to painkiller abuse and addiction. Some possibilities include:

  • Developing a regular sleep cycle
  • Maintaining a gentle exercise routine that includes strength training
  • Maintaining a healthy weight
  • Indulging in proper nutrition that is based on a balanced diet

Though a chronic pain issue will rarely be completely wiped out by these lifestyle changes, they can mitigate pain and help to limit the need for painkillers.

Professional Help

If your loved one is dependent on painkillers, it is not an issue to ignore. Contact us at Axis now and discuss their options for treatment. Their road to wellness can begin today.