Zoeller, others ask feds to reconsider approval of painkiller Zohydro

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INDIANAPOLIS (March 26, 2014) – A new, powerful painkiller is set to hit the market, but Indiana’s attorney general is among those asking federal authorities to reconsider its approval.

Zohydro, approved by the Food and Drug Administration last fall, is five to 10 times stronger than other opioid painkillers like Vicodin or Lortab. Indiana Attorney General Greg Zoeller is joined by attorneys general from Illinois, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky and Maine in asking Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to overturn the FDA’s decision.

The FDA approved the drug in October even though its own advisory committee voted 11-2 in opposition of its release.

Zoeller and the others are concerned about the potential for patients to abuse Zohydro, which is a pure hydrocodone pill.

“Zohydro does not contain any abuse-deterrent properties, which means there is a high potential for users to crush, snort or inject this powerful drug,” Zoeller said in a news release.

In 2011, prescription drugs were blamed for the deaths of 718 Hoosiers, a nearly 10 percent increase from the year before. Zoeller called prescription drug abuse a national “epidemic” and fears the pill would undermine efforts to fight prescription drug abuse.

Zoeller has established a task force to fight prescription drug abuse in Indiana. Its members include legislators, law enforcement, doctors, pharmacists and state and local agencies. Last year, the task force launched an awareness campaign and website to educate Hoosiers about the dangers of prescription drugs and provide resources for them to get help.

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