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Critics slam FDA decision to approve ‘pure hydrocodone’ drug Zohydro

Critics have slammed the Food and Drug Administration for what they say are inconsistent decisions regarding the prescription of opioid painkillers. Recently, the FDA approved a pure form of the drug hydrocodone that critics say could increase the risk of addiction and overdose while at the same time calling for the wider adoption of abuse-resistant hydrocodone medications to limit those dangers.

At a recent congressional hearing, New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand criticized the FDA’s decision to approve the new hydrocodone drug—known as Zohydro ER—because of the risk that it could increase painkiller abuse rates. Although Zohydro is designed to release its pain medication over time, the pills can be crushed by users, making them rife for abuse.

Attorney generals from 28 states across the country have signed a letter to the FDA stating that the agency’s approval of Zohydro was inconsistent with its call for the increased use of abuse-resistant forms of hydrocodone, rather than forms of the drug that could be more readily used for illicit purposes.

The attorney generals said that Zohydro would do little to curb the thousands of painkiller overdose deaths that occur in the U.S. each year. Overdoses caused by opioid painkillers and other prescription drugs recently passed auto accidents as the leading cause of accidental deaths in the U.S.