Dr Oz Alert: Dangerous Prescription Painkiller To Avoid
Dr Oz said he is worried about the addictive properties of Zohydro, a powerful pain medication that could exacerbate prescription drug abuse in America, possibly even leading to Heroin addiction for some patients.
Zohydro is five times stronger than the most powerful form of Vicodin, and Dr Oz called its FDA approval controversial. It is an advanced form of opioid-based Hydrocodone. Over 125 million opioid prescriptions are filled annually, and evidence shows they are abused, leading to a fourfold increase in overdose deaths since 1999.
Dr Oz: Zohydro Hydrocodone Content
Dr Oz said that doctors across the country are urging the FDA to reverse its approval of this drug, which dulls pain and makes users feel euphoria. Vicodin has 10 mg Hydrocodone, the same amount found in Lortab. However, Zohydro can have 50 mg Hydrocodone, five times that amount.
CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta told Dr Oz that he does not see a broad need for this drug, except for patients with extreme chronic pain or aggressive cancer. Why did the FDA approve this? Dr Gupta said that pain doctors are looking for more tools to help patients, but he is concerned about the risk of accidental death.
Dr Oz: Zohydro Powder Form & Street Drug?
According to Dr Gupta, 80% of pain medications used around the world are consumed in the United States. He said that accidental deaths from prescription drugs now outpace car accidents.
One of the biggest risks with Zohydro is that it can easily be crushed into a powder form, which can release dangerous amounts of its opioid, for faster absorption through snorting as a recreational drug, rather than the intended slow release.
Oxycontin, which has since been made tamper-resistant, was once called Hillbilly Heroin. He said that patients think these types of drugs cannot be so dangerous, since they come from trusted physicians.
Dr Oz: Zohydro Gateway Drug?
Dr Oz said there is also some concern that this is a gateway drug to Heroin. How could that happen? Dr Sanjay Gupta said that these pain meds are derived from the Opium plant, just like Heroin, which can be more affordable. That is why some patients will turn to street drugs when their prescriptions are cut off.
If you take a prescription of Zohydro, opioids are released that affect the brain’s craving areas while releasing your pain. But you will build up a resistance over time, and it will take more to satisfy your pleasure center. Heroin can take it to another level, but the consequence can be that your breathing stops. One sign is that your pupils become very small.
Dr Oz: Do Pain Medications Lead To Drug Abuse?
In a recent study, researchers found that four out of five Heroin users started out on prescription drugs. Dr Oz asked Dr Gupta whether doctors are partly to blame. Dr Gupta said that physicians should bear some responsibility, since it is so easy to rush patients through and send them home with prescriptions instead of pursuing other alternatives.
Dr Gupta said the typical patient is in his or her 30s and receives a narcotic prescription for pain relief, rather than suggestions such as physical therapy or massage. Narcotics could eventually make pain worse, requiring higher doses. It could take just three years for a patient to start on this road that could lead to overdose.
Dr Oz: Zogeniz & FDA Zohydro Statement
Zogenix, the company that produces Zohydro, shared this statement:
(We are) “committed to ensuring the safe, effective & responsible treatment of chronic pain patients…and fully engaged in simultaneously developing two potential abuse deterrent formulations of Zohydro.”
The FDA statement shared on the show read as follows:
“As a single hydrocodone product, Zohydro fulfills a unique need without the associated liver toxicity risk of the combination opioids that include Acetaminophen.”
In conclusion, Dr Oz said he is concerned about powerful, addictive, legal narcotics and thinks that Zohydro may be taking pain relieve too far.