States Oppose New Powerful Painkiller

Some state officials are taking steps to limit the availability of a controversial new painkiller because they believe it could worsen an already serious prescription drug abuse problem.

Zohydro was approved by the Food and Drug Administration last fall and became available last month. There is concern about the pill because it’s not tamper resistant and has up to five times more of the narcotic hydrocodone than other pills, the Associated Press reported.

Last week, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick placed a ban on prescribing and dispensing Zohydro until it is sold in a form that makes it difficult to abuse. On Thursday, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin implemented an executive order that makes it more difficult for doctors to prescribe the drug.

Shortly after Zohydro was approved, 28 state attorneys general sent a letter to the FDA asking the agency to revoke the drug’s approval or to force the manufacturer to make the drug more difficult to crush for snorting or injection, the AP reported.

Two members of Congress have introduced legislation that would force the FDA to withdraw the drug. The FDA approved the drug against the recommendation of an internal advisory panel.

More than 4.5 million Americans abuse prescription drugs, according to a 2013 Drug Enforcement Administration report. Experts say abuse of prescription painkillers can lead to heroin addiction, the AP reported.