There is so much scandal surrounding the release to pharmacies of Zohydro, the new single drug form of hydrocodone, the medication in Vicodin. It’s controversial because while extended release, it’s crushable for snorting or shooting up. However, there are 100 million Americans in chronic pain and this drug is an alternative to the stronger options such as Oxycontin, Dilaudid and Morphine.
Late last year, the FDA approved a long-acting version of the opiate, hydrocodone. Sold as Zohydro ER by Zogenix ZGNX -6.6%, this drug is approved for the management of pain, but is reserved only for use in patients for whom other pain treatments are ineffective or not tolerated. What was surprising about the FDA approval was that the FDA’s Anesthetic and Analgesic Drug Advisory Committee, made up of independent experts, had voted against approval of Zohydro ER by an 11 – 2 vote. The panel was supportive of the drug, but concerned about its abuse potential. While the FDA isn’t bound by the views of its Advisory Committees, it usually follows their advice.