We have spoken about the new opioid painkiller Zohydro in the past. For those who know little or nothing about it, here are some facts to help you decide whether or not everything a doctor prescribes is safe. We are not doctors, nor are we offering medical advice. We urge addicts and alcoholics in recovery to have an open, frank, and well-informed conversation with your doctor before using any potentially addictive drug—whether it is marketed as resistant to addiction or not.
Non-doctors write millions of painkiller prescriptions every year. This accounts for as much as one-third of all prescription opiates. Over the years, nurses and other medical workers can now prescribe medications that used to be obtained only by a doctor’s orders. Only the most restricted and regulated medications fall out of bounds.
That should be a good thing. It frees doctors up to spend more time with patients. However, it used to be that only a doctor could prescribe Oxycontin, but now nurses in many states can prescribe it. Indeed, even some optometrists are able to prescribe highly addictive opioid painkillers.
Further, while the idea of freeing doctors up to see more people is great, the reality is far different. Our healthcare system is woefully ill-prepared to handle the volumes of people seeking treatment for what ails them, and this will become an even bigger problem as the baby-boomers retire. However, highly addictive and abuse-prone medications should not fall under the category of taking a pulse or checking blood pressure, which was the original purpose of giving non-doctors some of these responsibilities. That does not change that a doctor should only perform certain responsibilities.
The overburdened healthcare system provides another issue, though. With limited time and a growing number of people to treat, doctors cannot afford to continually have the same person returning to receive treatment for the same incident/issue. This greatly incentivizes doctors to prescribe medications which are overkill, just incase the standard treatment was insufficient.
Further, many of the medications advertised as non-addictive ultimately prove to be quite addictive. Heroin itself was billed as a non-addictive alternative to morphine. In every single case, these “non-addictive alternatives” not only end up being addictive, but also take more lives as a result of the decreased caution using such medications.
That is not to say that in some circumstances these medications are not needed. Pain management is a vital part of being a doctor. However, healthcare professionals know that no case is exactly like another, and the treatment should not be the same either.
Zohydro offers nothing new. It serves the same function as countless medications that came before, for the same purpose. Now, though, there is a proven track record of these medications hitting the streets, leaving death and addiction in their wake.
So why add more of them, knowing what the consequences are likely to be?
Is there a place for Zohydro in medicine? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!