A new prescription painkiller that is being called the “next OxyContin” has been approved by the Federal Food and Drug administration despite opposition by activists, healthcare providers and government officials.
The drug is incredibly strong, and experts believe it will cause a spike in opioid addiction and overdose deaths.
Here is what you need to know about this potentially dangerous new drug:
1. It Will Hit the Market in March
The release will make it one of the strongest pills on the market with 5 to 10 times more hydrocodone than Vicodin.
2. Activists Say it Will ‘Kill as Soon as it’s Released’
Dr, Andrew Kolondy, the president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, told CNN that the drug will “kill people as soon as it’s released” because “it’s a whopping dose of hydrocodone packed in an easy-to-crush capsule.”
NPR, also reporting on the dangers of Zohydro, warned that its potency could easily cause accidental deaths, saying that an adult could overdose on just two capsules, while a child could overdose just by accidentally swallowing one pill.
3. Hydrocodone Is Already a Frequently Abused Opioid
Hydrocodone is already a popularly prescribed painkiller, and therefore one of the most commonly abused. Hydrocodone is found in the popular drug Vicodin, which is made up of hydrocodone bitartrate and acetaminophen, the ingredient in Tylenol.
According to the video above, a person will start to exhibit signs of addiction after one week of daily use of hydrocodone, and addicts most commonly take pills whole or crush them and snort the powder.
4. Zohydro Poses Serious Risk of Addiction
Zohydro will need special precautions to prevent the abuse of the new super-strong drug, including a requirement to see a doctor in order to get refills and a large amount of literature on side effects and addiction. According to the drug’s website, the label will contain the following passage:
Zohydro ER exposes users to risks of addiction, abuse, and misuse, which can lead to overdose and death. Assess each patient’s risk before prescribing, and monitor regularly for development of these behaviors or conditions.
5. Prescription Drug Abuse Is on the Rise
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription drugs are the second most abused drug in Americans over the age of 14, second only to (increasingly legal) marijuana. According to the institute’s study, in 2013 around 15 percent of 12th-graders abused some prescription drug.