FDA approves pain killer 10 times stronger than Vicodin - My29 WFTC Minneapolis-St. Paul

ZOHYDRO: FDA approves pain killer with 10 times the hydrocodone

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The Food and Drug Administration has given the green light to a new pain killer that will be one of the strongest on the market, but critics believe the drug will only bring a different kind of pain in the end.

A Minnesota mother is leading the charge to stop the drug from hitting a pharmacy near you over addiction concerns. One study found people who use prescription drugs are 20 times more likely to move on to harder drugs like heroin -- and Judy Rummler believes that's what happened to her son.

"He was a wonderful, loving, caring son -- certainly not the kind of individual you would think this ending would come to," Rummler told Fox 9 News.

Since losing her son, Steve, to an overdose a few years ago, Rummler has been spreading a warning about how addictive prescription pills can be.

"After he died, we found a note that said, 'At first it was a lifeline. Now, it's a noose around my neck,'" Rummler said.

Now, she believes the new medicine called Zohydro could be a prescription for more abuse if it makes it to market because the opium-based drug capsules have 10 times more hydrocodone than Vicodin and is intended to help those who suffer from chronic and acute pain like Steve Rummler did.

"My main concern is that they would even approve this drug when we are in the middle of a public health crisis," Judy Rummler explained. "This is an epidemic in our country."

Following the FDA approval, the drug could be available as soon as next month -- but even some doctors aren't keen on giving it to their patients.

"The technology is out there to make this a safer pill. They just chose not to use it," Dr. Charles Reznikoff, of the Hennepin County Medical Center, told Fox 9 News.

Reznikoff believes Zohydro is ripe for abuse because it's easy to destroy the time-release coating so that users can get the full dose at once. Additionally, he says the cheaper, safer drugs on the market would work just as well.

"I would never prescribe it or recommend that it be prescribed," Reznikoff said. "I would also recommend that the insurance companies not make it available to patients."

A number of groups -- from attorneys general to addiction specialists -- have sent letters to the FDA asking the agency to reconsider its approval. In fact, the FDA's own advisory committee voted 11-2 against approving it, but the FDA gave the drug the green-light anyway.

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