Potent new painkiller hitting the market

Updated: 03/04/2014 9:12 AM | Created: 03/04/2014 9:11 AM
By: Erika Edwards, NBC News

A new prescription painkiller could help many people suffering from long-term severe pain, but it has addiction specialists worried.

The new prescription painkiller is called Zohydro Extended Release.

Any pain medications have the potential for abuse, but critics warn Zohydro is extremely potent.

"It has five to ten times more hydrocodone in a pure form that can be easily crushed, snorted or chewed," explains Dr. Andrew Kolodny.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Zohydro last fall, in opposition to its advisors.

In a statement, drug maker Zogenix wrote: "the FDA concluded that the benefits of Zohydro far outweigh the risks."

Some doctors say they welcome this new drug as a valuable tool for certain patients with chronic, debilitating pain that limits their quality of life.

"These patients includes those folks that have been in catastrophic car accidents and now have maybe an amputation or burn injuries that will never heal," says Dr. Brian Bruel of the MD Anderson Cancer Center.

The drug maker is working on a form of the pill that will not as easily crushed, but that could take years.

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