Karen Pershing

In October, 2013, the FDA approved the manufacture and distribution of a pure form of hydrocodone, Zohydro, a 5-10 times more powerful formulation.

Not only is this drug powerful, but it will be allowed to be produced and not required to be tamper resistant, meaning it could be crushed allowing the 12 hour extended release properties to be released at one time.

Given the fact that Tennessee has one of the highest rates of prescriptions written per capita, one could assume this new opiate could become a lightning rod to a state already plagued with high rates of overdose deaths, babies born dependent to opiates and opiates being the primary admission for alcohol and drug treatment services.

What can we do about this?  Several advocacy groups and state attorneys general have asked the FDA to reconsider their decision to no avail.  Our best defense is a good offense.

Let’s start by educating the public on the potential dangers of both addiction and overdose deaths from this drug.  Next we need to educate medical providers who are licensed to write the prescriptions.

There needs to be strict guidelines on who can receive this drug and assurance of careful monitoring while in use.  Health insurance companies and employers can limit access and not put the drug on their formularies or require a special preauthorization process before covering the cost of the drug.

We all need to be cautious and careful healthcare consumers.  Weigh the risks and benefits of any medications you consider taking.  Be educated and if you don’t need a pain pill, don’t take it!