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Controversial new pain pill's future uncertain

By: Matthew Rand Email
By: Matthew Rand Email

LONDON, Ky. (WYMT) - People on the ground in the war on drugs are claiming a major victory. A Federal Drug Administration panel has voted against approval of a new pain drug that officials say has great potential for abuse.

A California-based pharmaceutical company hopes to begin selling a new formulation of hydrocodone called Zohydro next year. Should the drug come to market, area drug officials say it would surely be abused.

"We learned that through OxyContin," said Dan Smoot, of Operation UNITE. "You know when that pill hit the market, I think we all know what happened to eastern and southern Kentucky."

An F.D.A. panel concluded last week Zohydro could be used to get high similarly to morphine, oxycodone and hydromorphone. The panel added the drug would produce significant abuse-related effects when taken intravenously. Officials say the group made a wise decision.

"In the coming years, we're hopeful that the F.D.A. keeps this common-sense approach," said Smoot. "I don't believe we need stronger and more pain medications. I believe there's plenty out there."

The problem with most pain meds, Smoot says, is they remain potent after they have been crushed.

"The pharmaceutical industry has shown us, they have ways to make pills tamper-resistant, but all the pills they're trying to get approved by the F.D.A., they're all crushable."

Smoot says he hopes the F.D.A. continues to put communities, addicts, and those in law enforcement ahead of drug manufacturers.

The Food and Drug Administration is not bound to the panel's vote, but officials say it is unlikely the F.D.A. would go against their recommendation.


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