Massachusetts cannot ban the new hydrocodone medication Zohydro ER, according to U.S. District Judge Rya Zobel. Last month, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a ban on Zohydro due to a public health emergency stemming from opioid abuse.
After the ban was announced, Zogenix, the company that manufactures the new drug, argued in a lawsuit that the ban was unconstitutional. Judge Zobel issued a preliminary injunction on Tuesday that supported the claims of the drug’s maker. In the injunction, the judge notes that Zogenix is likely to be successful in pursuing a court order to permanently lift the ban. According to the judge, the ban would “undermine the FDA’s ability to make drugs available to promote and protect the public health.”
Zohydro’s high level of potency and vulnerability to misuse sparks major concerns surrounding the drug. The Federal Drug Administration received an influx of criticism from health groups and state officials after approving the pure hydrocodone drug last fall. The approval of the pain medication Zohydro was a surprise considering the panel of experts appointed by the FDA recommended against approval.
Governor Patrick said he was disappointed in the ruling, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Addiction is a serious problem already in Massachusetts without having to deal with another addictive narcotic painkiller sold in a form that isn’t tamper proof,” said the governor in a statement.
Zohydro ER is the first pure hydrocodone drug to be approved by the FDA. Popular pain medications such as Vicodin contain a combination of hydrocodone and other painkillers such as acetaminophen, which can cause liver damage. Zohydro offers around-the-clock pain relief to those in need without the risk of damaging the liver, however, the new drug is ten times more potent than Vicodin.
Many are afraid that Zohydro will contribute to the already growing rates of death by opioid overdose in the U.S. Although Zohydro is intended to be released over time, the drug can be crushed and snorted by people seeking a strong, immediate high. Zogenix reports that it will not have the technological to apply abuse-deterrent features to the substance until 2016.
In the meantime, Governor Patrick is poised to turn his attention to other means in addressing the epidemic of opioid abuse in Massachusetts. The governor’s public stance against the new drug is a testament to the serious nature of the risk that can come from abusing a strong medication like Zohydro. If you know of someone in need of an intervention in Massachusetts, contact us today to learn more about available resources.