Van Wey Law is currently filing Zohydro lawsuits nationwide on behalf of individuals who suffered the adverse effects of addiction, including overdose and even death. Recently, the FDA approved Zohydro ER (hydrocodone bitartrate), and this has brought the challenges of chronic pain and addiction into the spotlight.Chronic pain affects tens of millions of people in the U.S., and doctors are more likely to recognize and treat this pain more than they have ever been. The number of prescriptions for opioids has increased 10-fold since 1990. Chronic pain is associated with the following:
- Functional loss and disability
- Reduced quality of life
- High health care costs
- Premature death
Over the same period of time, the overdose death rate in the U.S. has more than tripled. This is not by accident. Many doctors have prescribed opioids without thoroughly analyzing patients. They either haven’t been clear on the risk for development of substance-use disorders or haven’t recognized red flags that have emerged in clinical practice. Evidence that indicates opioids are leading many down the path to progression to heroin has surfaced in several states .
What is Zohydro?
Zohydro is a single-entity formulation of hydrocodone and joins the same category as these prescribed drugs:
- Oxycontin (oxycodone hydrochloride)
- Morphine sulfates (MS Contin, Avinza, and Kadian)
- Exalgo (hydromorphone hydrochloride)
- Opana ER (oxymorphone hydrochloride)
- Nucynta ER (tapentadol)
- Embeda (morphine sulfate and naltrexone hydrochloride)
Extremely high-potent Zohydro is sold in capsule form, to add to the danger, and can be crushed or snorted by abusers.
How Does Zohydro Addiction Occur?
Zohydro is a member of the opioid family whose active ingredient is hydrocodone. The opioid group of drugs also includes the illegal and dangerous drug known on the streets as Heroin, as well as many other legal but not necessarily less dangerous prescription painkillers. Unlike other hydrocodone-containing medications such as Vicodin and Lortab, Zohydro does not contain acetaminophen and instead consists of pure hydrocodone in doses much higher than other available drugs. When any of these types of drugs are taken, the consumer experiences relief from pain, but also a euphoric feeling that can become addictive. Often times, users of Zohydro begin to feel as though they need the drug just as much as they need food or water to live each day. Those who are predisposed to addiction, or have addictive personalities, are especially at risk for overdose or death from a Zohydro prescription. Doctors, unfortunately, cannot know for sure if a person is predisposed to this behavior when they are prescribing the drug. Studies report that as many as half of those using opioids long-term become addicted.
The scariest truth surrounding Zohydro is that it is the fact that Zohydro, while designed and marketed as a time-release drug, is manufactured in a way that allows it be crushed and snorted—or even injected—by abusers. Not only is the drug stronger than any other, it is easy to abuse. The Food and Drug Administration’s own scientific panel was against the approval of this medication, voting overwhelmingly to prevent the drug from being placed on the market. Despite this, the FDA approved it anyway. Many experts came together to form a panel called Fed Up! to urge the FDA to reconsider its decision, and they continue to publicize the real dangers of Zohydro.
Alarming Increase in Overdoses in the U.S.
The rate of prescription painkiller addiction and overdose in the United States has increased at an alarming rate. Clearly, opioid abuse is an epidemic. Through no fault of your own, you may have received a legitimate prescription for Zohydro to help relieve your pain, and grown addicted. You didn’t intend to become an addict, or your loved one may not have intended to overdose accidentally, or lose their life. It’s a nightmare that just doesn’t seem fair, and that’s because it isn’t. When a medication gets the best of you, breaking free from it seems almost impossible. It can quickly ruin your family, your career, and your most important relationships. Though you may feel there is no way out of a very dark situation, there is, and we can help. Van Wey Law fights to hold the guilty party responsible for the grief Zohydro has caused you or your family. We will hold a negligent doctor or pharmaceutical company responsible for their reckless actions that have destroyed lives. You may need to seek medical help to break free from the drug’s hold, but we can support you by recovering compensation for lost wages, medical bills and pain and suffering you have experienced. If a loved one has lost their life, we will pursue a wrongful death claim against the responsible party, and we will fight aggressively for justice on your behalf. We have seen firsthand how families suffer from this devastation, and we know how difficult it can be. We are here to support you through this difficult time. Call us today at 888-694-8093 for a free consultation and evaluation of your case, and let’s put you on the road to recovery and justice today.
FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg stated these broad attempts they are addressing regarding the addiction and overdose risks:
- Moving hydrocodone preparations to the more restrictive Schedule II
- Relabeling certain prescription opioids with new warnings and narrower indications
- Promoting education of prescribers and patients about long-acting opioids
- Seeking to accelerate development of effective nonopioid treatments for pain
Many people who experience chronic pain are at risk for addiction or overdose when treated with opioid medications. Managing these clinical situations effectively should be a significant focus of research funding today. One such approach might involve a type of specialty fellowship in chronic pain and addiction developed to provide expertise and consultation to both clinicians and policymakers. The federal government can definitely do more to intercede in the concurrent treatment of chronic pain and addiction among patients who are at greater risk for both. Why not designate the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration with the task of guiding physicians practicing in opioid treatment programs on appropriate ways of using methadone or buprenorphine to treat concomitant opioid use disorder and chronic pain? Health care systems could include screenings, brief intervention, and referrals for further testing and treatment of addiction into all clinical settings where opioids can be prescribed. Medicare and Medicaid programs can use data-analysis tools to spot the red flags of inappropriate prescribing. They can then report these prescribers to medical boards and state agencies for further action. Clinical practices in the U.S. need to be reviewed with the aim of supporting high-quality care for both chronic pain and addiction. This way, physicians will not be deterred from treating patients with complex needs. New England Journal of Medicine also suggests:
Public and private insurers can provide as generous coverage for treatment of opioid-use disorder as they do for management of chronic pain. This standard is infrequently met.
The FDA needs to provide a set of reasonable requirements for opioid medications that will deter others with less expertise from filling a perceived void. Everyone involved in the medical and pharmaceutical industry, as well as the FDA, must come together to promote high quality and effective prevention and treatment for chronic pain and addiction.