Backlash against new FDA approved painkiller

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH)– There’s backlash against the latest FDA approved chronic pain medication available to patients starting next month. It comes on the heels of the alarming rate of prescription drug deaths across the country and here at home.

Zohydro, a hydrocodone based drug, is the latest arsenal in the cache of drugs for chronic pain. The latest opposition comes from a group made up of health care, consumer and addiction treatment groups.

Opponents argue the country does not need another potent prescription painkiller that can lead to addiction and death. But there are doctors who see the need for it.

Zohydro is the latest line of opioids prescribed for chronic pain now at the cross hairs of controversy.

Okay-ed by the FDA and available in March, opponents say the potent painkiller could lead to more abuse and deaths.

“Its the cleaner way for people to abuse drugs,” said Internist Dr. Frank Mongillo.

It’s a widespread problem.

“The thing about long acting drugs, it is actually a better way to treat pain. The problem is people abuse it,” said Mongillo.

His patients like 37-year-old Tom.

“I was on Oxycontin primarily, Percocets, which made me dabble with heroin a little bit,” said Tom.

This employed husband and father is getting treated for his dependence.

“Once it gets a hold of you, you lose everything about yourself, that’s the only thing you care about,” said Tom.

That firm hold began in high school after his father’s death.

“I guess that’s how I dealt with grief but then it turns into that’s how you deal with happiness and sadness,” said Tom.”I think it’s partially timing.”

Dr. Mongillo sees the need for drugs like Zohydro.

“I would not be opposed to prescribing it with any of these medications. I tend to like to see them on the market for awhile and kind of get a sense of where they best fit in,” said Mongillo.

So far 28 states have asked the the FDA to reverse it’s decision in the midst of the skyrocketing rate of prescription drug deaths.

The maker of Zohydro says it provides a new treatment option for chronic pain patients who have developed opioid tolerance, are not getting optimum pain relief or are experiencing side effects with other long-acting opioids.

Dr. Mongillo points out there’s always a risk of addiction.

“5 to 10 percent of people are going to just like it too much,” said Mongillo.

U.S. Attorneys general from 28 states signed that letter asking the FDA Commissioner to reconsider the agency’s decision.

Connecticut attorney general George Jepsen among them.

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