Zohydro: Opiate Addiction’s New Face?

zohydroThe FDA has approved a new opiate called Zohydro, but many are (understandably) outraged.

The new painkiller is supposed to be stronger than OxyContin, with one major catch: unlike OxyContin, Zohydro is not designed to deter drug abuse and drug addiction.

Of course, most people realize OxyContin is still addictive despite being designed not to be. However, this approach has not be taken with the development of Zohydro, which led to the FDA initially voting against legalizing the drug in a vote of 11 to 2.

As if it was not questionable enough already, the manufacturers and developers of Zohydro, Alkermes, are also the same company that produces Vivitrol (which itself is a form of naltrexone), a drug sometimes used to help treat painkiller addiction or alcoholism.

Surely the two cannot be related…

Many are concerned about the many roles that Alkermes plays in the field of addiction—particularly in the role of opiate addiction.

Rest assured, though, that Alkermes is “evaluating its role with respect to Zohydro”—whatever that means.

Why have we not heard much about it until now? Because the ownership of various components of the business aspects of the drug have been licensed to numerous entities, exchanging hands more than a couple times until we arrived at this moment in a drug’s lifecycle.

Despite concerns about the potential for abuse, the original manufacturer gave assurances that they would do something if signs of abuse started showing up.

How encouraging…

OxyContin has earned a reputation as one of the strongest and most widely abused drugs available. With Zohydro expected to surpass what is now one of the most deadly drugs in the field of drug addiction, it is hard to fathom that such a tool is necessary in the treatment of chronic pain management with the number of comparable drugs already available. Especially when these drugs fail at curbing addiction and abuse, despite being designed to do just that, it is understandable for so many to be concerned about Zohydro hitting the market.

Of course, this also leaves out the concerns that Alkermes is involved so heavily on both sides of the debate, including being major contributors to the American Society of Addiction Medicine. It also is independent of the initial FDA evaluation that almost unanimously shot down the drug the first time a proposal was presented. The conflict of interest regarding the push for more sales of another medication used in treating addiction raises even more flags, especially considering there are already major concerns with the likelihood of abuse for such a drug.

We wonder, too, how a supposedly impartial organization like the American Society of Addiction Medicine can have such great concerns about one of it’s financial supporters even before this revelation, and not outright sever the relationship based on the conflict of interest afterwards.

What are your thoughts on Zohydro?

What do you think? Should Zohydro go on the market? What about the various links on both sides of the addiction issue? Let us know in the comments!

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