First Single-Ingredient Hydrocodone Drug Receives FDA Approval

The Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the first pure hydrocodone drug in the United States. The drug, Zohydro ER (extended release), was approved for patients with pain that requires daily, around-the-clock, long-term treatment that cannot be treated with other drugs.

Drugs such as Vicodin contain a combination of hydrocodone and other painkillers such as acetaminophen, the Associated Press reports.

In December, a panel of experts assembled by the FDA voted against recommending approval of Zohydro ER. The panel cited concerns over the potential for addiction. In the 11-2 vote against approval, the panel said that while the drug’s maker, Zogenix, had met narrow targets for safety and efficacy, the painkiller could be used by people addicted to other opioids, including oxycodone.

Patient safety advocates criticized the FDA’s decision. “We’re just going to kill more kids and then the FDA is going to come back and say, ‘oh, we made a mistake,’” said Avi Israel, whose son Michael committed suicide while struggling with painkiller addiction. Israel is the founder of a group that aims to combat painkiller abuse in young people.

Full story of hydrocodone drug and the FDA at

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Women’s prescription overdose deaths skyrocket

Every day, 42 women die from a drug overdose – and nearly half of those overdoses are from prescription painkillers.

In fact, according to newly released figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of women dying from prescription drug overdoses has increased by more than 400% since 1999 – nearly double the 265% increase of deaths in men.

“In 2010, more than 6,600 women died from prescription painkillers, four times as many died from cocaine and heroin combined,” says CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden.

These numbers are proportional to the increasingly high use of prescription painkillers in the last decade, Frieden says, but “the overwhelming number of these deaths … more than 70% were unintentional.”

In fact, a woman was admitted to the emergency room for prescription drug overdose or misuse every three minutes, the CDC found. While women between the ages of 25-54 were the ones most likely to go to the ER, it was women between the ages of 45 and 54 who had the highest risk of dying from a prescription painkiller overdose.

Full story of women prescription over dose at CNN Health

Beedie Savage – President of Quantum Units Education

Prescription Painkillers Containing Hydrocodone May Become More Tightly Regulated

Hydrocodone To Be Tightly RegulatedAdvisers to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will meet this fall to discuss whether prescription painkillers containing hydrocodone should be more tightly regulated, Bloomberg reports. They will evaluate the risks and benefits of hydrocodone preparations that are used to treat pain and coughs.

Emergency room visits related to hydrocodone, the key ingredient in Vicodin and other painkillers, have soared since 2000. Vicodin, which also contains acetaminophen, is subject to fewer regulations than pure hydrocodone, the article notes.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) wants to change the way drugs that combine hydrocodone with other products are classified, to require patients to have more interaction with doctors in order to obtain prescriptions for them. “It has to do with penalties for trafficking,” Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the DEA, told Bloomberg. “You have to go back to the doctor when you run out of medicine. It’s more oversight by the doctor.” She said that if the FDA decides that the drugs should have more oversight, the DEA will change its drug classification schedule accordingly.

Full story of prescription painkiller regulations at

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Opium Study Raises Questions About Opium-Derived Painkillers

Opium Painkiller Study Raising QuestionsA new study that links opium use with serious health problems, including cancer, circulatory diseases and respiratory problems, has implications for opium-derived painkillers such as morphine and codeine, CNN reports.

The study of more than 50,000 people in Iran found an 86 percent increased likelihood of death from major causes among those who used opium, even at modest levels. The researchers took into account factors such as poverty and cigarette smoking, which could affect the outcome. The article notes the study does not prove opium causes the increased risk of death, since it did not randomly assign participants to use opium or not.

Full story of opium study at

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Amy Winehouse and the Pain of Addiction

By Maia Szalavitz

Another addiction death comes at age 27, with Amy Winehouse joining Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain and most aptly, Janis Joplin among the rock icons who died from their disorder at the same point in their young lives. And sadly, her passing also presents another occasion for well-intentioned people who misunderstand addiction to push counterproductive solutions.

Janis Joplin once said that she made love to 25,000 people at her concerts, but went home alone.  It’s that yearning for love and acceptance, that aching but unanswered need for connection that underlies both the drive for fame and the pain of addiction, which may be why the two are so often found together.

The pain that infused Winehouse’s voice seemed inextricable from her talent and was one thing that allowed her to move so many so profoundly. In counterpoint, her joyous sounds seemed that much more uplifting. It’s that deep and complex mix of feelings that helped her fans connect to her even as she herself never benefited from that connection. That paradox is at the heart of the addiction.

Full story at Time Healthland