Powerful and Controversial New Pain Medication Available

A common theme we see with work injuries in Pennsylvania, whether with a complex regional pain syndrome, failed back surgery, brachial plexopathy, knee, hip or shoulder replacement, or other permanent conditions, is an injured worker dealing with chronic pain. As a result, we always keep an eye out for new methods of helping patients deal with the lingering agony that can accompany a serious work injury.

While many of these new methods, whether it be medication or other treatment option, arrive quietly, one new medication is coming with quite a fuss. Zohydro ER, manufactured by Zogenix, Inc., is a powerful new hydrocodone product. This medication was recently approved by the FDA, and, as stated in the press release issued by the FDA, “is the first FDA-approved single-entity (not combined with an analgesic such as acetaminophen) and extended-release hydrocodone product.”

Because Zohydro ER is so potent, there is great concern in the medical and news community that the product will cause addiction and health issues. According to ABC News, Zohydro ER can have up to ten times more narcotic than Vicodin. In fact, that same article stated that “the FDA’s own advisory committee voted against approval.”

According to CBS Philly, local police and safety officials in the Philadelphia and Bucks County areas are also concerned that Zohydro ER will cause an increase in both pharmacy and home burglaries, as desperate people seek the drug. In the article, Bensalem Public Safety Director Fred Harran said, “We’re going to see a spike in burglaries, robberies and thefts across the nation. We’re going to see more heroin overdoses, more overdoses of this drug because it’s so potent, it’s so powerful.”

While, in theory, any medication can be abused and can lead to an overdose. Many medications are known to potentially cause addiction. These things, however, do not seem like a reason to deny relief to folks who live each day in excruciating pain because existing medications cannot achieve an acceptable level of relief. Those lobbying the FDA to revoke its approval probably never found themselves in the chronic pain faced by an injured worker.