Zohydro and the Epidemic of Painkiller Abuse

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Prescription painkillers According to the CDC, drug overdose deaths have more than tripled since 1990. Most of those deaths have been caused by prescription painkillers. (Copyright: SerialCoder/Shutterstock)

In October the Food and Drug Administration approved the controversial long-acting painkiller Zohydro, a drug some doctors think the FDA should never have approved. It belongs to a class of drugs that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said has created a nationwide, doctor-driven epidemic of addiction, death, and immeasurable devastation. Stephen S. Hall, New York magazine contributing editor, talks about the drug and the controversy surrounding it in his article โ€œHow Much Does it Hurt?โ€ in the June 9 issue of New York.


Stephen S. Hall

Comments [9]

James D'Addio from nyc


As a cancer patient with Multiple Myeloma @ Sloan Kettering.. a killer blood disease that eats yours bones Oxycodone/and ER extended relief Oxycotine has been a pain saving live safer for me .The muscles around the spine take the burden of pain the drug relieves the pain as well as puts you in a better mood well my doctor explained that's because you are not in pain any more The side effect problem is metabolism burn and constipation balance which forces one to do extreme exercises and something needs to be addressed about this issue of this problem if you want a flt stomach. I have managed to keep my dosages under 10 mg for day for 4 years and can easily go for days without it.
A great solution would be an opioid that does not block or slow your metabolism..

I'm sorry to hear that it is being abused for recreational purposes and can see why but drug culture will always be around and people will grow out of it or move on to junk. 10x is very scary as a simple 5mg is fine for patients and is monitored by doctors. I can't image being on more than 15mg a day 24 hours you would be itchy and cloudy to function. Cure for MM is all we want. Without stem cell transfers.and is also accompanied with Steroids which make it even more difficult to stay clear on Oxycotine. Should the government take away or make our pain killers obtain due to abuse thatg would be very disastrous for all patients that really suffer to walk. In the end it sounds like Zohrdyo is over the top..unless you are critical/fatal condition.

Jun. 18 2014 12:40 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Could Mr. Hall say something about pseudoaddiction, in which people who are genuinely in severe pain are assumed by medical personnel to be asking for controlled painkillers because they're in withdrawal?

Jun. 18 2014 12:34 PM
khadija Boyd from brooklyn

Don't know much about this; however, I do know something about Oxy.... My child had back surgery in 2005 at Beth Israel. Thankfully, Surgeons (yes my kiddo is bionic, kinda), Anesthelogists, RNs, all, gave me a strict regimen to wean my child off from OXY & neo... I did and am forever grateful to Beth Israel. Chief surgeon/Spine: Dr. Andrew Casden

Jun. 18 2014 12:28 PM

Please comment on the possibility of conflict of interest within Pharma, as described at

In my experience, there is a difference in use of opiates in terminal care in hospice (on-demand) and in post-surgical pain relief (carefully administered, with patient education by a pain specialist).
There is an excellent article on the "twin challenges of chronic pain and addiction" in the New England J Medicine at

Jun. 18 2014 12:27 PM
BK from Hoboken

While I do believe the FDA should have required a tamper proof formulation for a Zohydro approval, I am not sure about some of the vitriol thrown at Purdue or Zogenix. The companies are researching and producing pain medications fr the millions suffering. Absolutely we should be investigating non-opioid pain relievers, but this is what we have for now. We don't shame and blame the auto industry if their products are driven incorrectly, so beyond tamper proof formulations I am not sure we can hold the manufacturers responsible for the illegal uses of their product.

Jun. 18 2014 12:25 PM
Larry from Brooklyn

Leonard and the guest speak as if "addiction" is something that is 1) inherent in a substance/drug and 2) something that is easy to quantify in the case that it is a characteristic of a drug. "addiction" is a term that is not even being used in current neuroscience research because of its lack of utility. I am disappointed that this is discussion lacks sophistication.

Jun. 18 2014 12:25 PM
mick from Inwood

When I was a child, I saw someone die in agony of cancer. Even when she was obviously terminal, while large chunks of her necrotic flesh fell from her sores when she was turned amid her screams of pain, her doctors would not, or could not...but in any case did not give her adequate pain killers because, they said, "You wouldn't want her to become addicted, would you?" Are we going to go back to that because some idiots insist on killing themselves with prescription and non-prescription opioid medications?

Jun. 18 2014 12:15 PM
pina1978 from So.Plainfield

Why not to give bag of heroin instead?

Jun. 18 2014 12:09 PM

How many livers will be saved with this tylenol free drug?

Jun. 18 2014 12:08 PM

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