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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

FDA Approves Controversial New Painkiller

A controversial, super-potent new painkiller has received Food and Drug Administration approval and could be available this month.

It’s called Zohydro, and it promises to relieve severe pain in patients who cannot get relief from other medications. But it’s sold in an easy-to-crush capsule. And that makes it easy to abuse. Congressman Peter Welch, along with other lawmakers and law enforcement officials, wants the FDA to reverse its approval.

“So the question we have is, if you’re going to use this drug, have the manufacturer of  ZOHYDRO do what the Oxycontin manufacturer did and put it out in a tamper-resistant form, and that means that potential abusers wouldn’t be so easily able to crush it, snort it chew it or inject it," Welch said. 

Welch worries that Zohydro will worsen the opioid epidemic sweeping through Northern New England.

But rival drug maker Oxycontin has just announced that it has finished testing a tamper resistant form of the new controversial painkiller. So Zohydro may have some stiff competition, in the long run.

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