What is Zohydro?

Zohydro is the name being used for a new type of pharmaceutical hydrocodone, not yet on the market.  Medical addiction experts say there will be ten times as much hydrocodone in Zohydro as there is in Vicodin, making Zohydro Abuse a very real possibility.  Four different pharmaceutical companies are currently testing Zohydro on patients.  One of these companies, a San Diego-based firm called Zogenix, plans to apply to the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) in 2012 in hopes of selling the medication, beginning in 2013.

Zohydro’s Potential Dangers

Zohydro’s manufacturers intend to position the drug as a useful medication for managing moderate to severe chronic pain.  Right now, hydrocodone is always buffered with other medications like acetaminophen.  These hydrocodone potentiators can be toxic to the liver if taken in large amounts.  This potential for liver toxicity limits the amount of a hydrocodone-containing medication any patient can take in a single 24-hour period.  Zohydro manufacturers say there will be no potentiators in Zohydro, which means that severely ill patients will be able to take a larger amount of active hydrocodone in order to control their pain.

Addiction experts see it differently, noting the huge black market that’s sprung up in comparable medications already prescribed.  Drug abusers, they say, will be able to crush and snort Zohydro for an intense, immediate high.  Thousands of individuals, they fear, will end up suffering from Zohydro Addiction.

Zohydro consists of pure hydrocodone in a time release formula, without any of the traditional non-narcotic, non-addictive medications like acetaminophen or aspirin that are added to existing hydrocodone medications like Vicodin and Lortab. Hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic opioid, binds to selective receptors in the brain and spinal cord to produce analgesia.  In addition to acting as an analgesic, hydrocodone can induce euphoria and sedation, which makes it popular drug for recreational use, particularly among teenagers and young adults.  Hydrocodone, in fact, is the second-most abused prescription medication in the U.S.

Zohydro Abuse

Zohydro is pure hydrocodone, designed to be taken by patients who experience round the clock pain.  Zohydro developer Zogenix argues that the FDA will very tightly regulate the medication in order to prevent abuse. Addiction experts argue that people will abuse Zohydro in order to experience the physical and psychological sensations of warmth and satisfaction that drug users refer to as getting high.  The longer users take the drug, the more quickly they will build up tolerance to it, which means they will require a larger dose in order to experience the medication’s initial effects.  Zohydro Addiction is a real possibility against this background.  The exact physiological mechanism by which tolerance develops is not known.  Interestingly, research has shown that individuals who are taking hydrocodone for legitimate pain control don’t build up a tolerance to it.

Eventually habitual hydrocodone users develop physical withdrawal symptoms if they don’t have regular access to the drug.  Physical withdrawal symptoms are exceedingly unpleasant and can include severe cramping, “pins and needles” sensations, nausea, vomiting, sweating, restlessness and acute anxiety.  Psychological withdrawal symptoms can include depression and intense cravings for the drug.

Recreational users who have developed a tolerance to hydrocodone will often take so much of the medication in the hopes of recapturing their initial high that they overdose.  In 2009 alone, emergency rooms reported over 86,000 visits related to hydrocodone overdose.  Addiction experts are afraid this number will escalate if Zohydro is brought to market.

Oxycontin:  A Scenario for Zohydro Abuse?

In 1995 the Connecticut pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma introduced a time-release form oxycodone called Oxycontin that today is the most abused prescription medication in the U.S, according to the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration.)  Although manufacturers have tried to make Oxycontin tamper-resistant, addicts have found many ways to get around these restrictions.    Oxycontin addiction treatment is one of the primary therapies offered by rehabilitation facilities around the country.  Zohydro critics say that Zohydro Addiction Treatment will be even as common as oxycontin addiction treatment if Zohydro succeeds in getting to market.

In November 2011, Zogenix met with the FDA one last time to discuss the drug application it intends to file in 2012 in hopes of introducing Zohydro in 2013.  The FDA will not comment publicly on its discussions with Zogenix, but Zogenix officials say they are open to releasing a tamper-resistant form of the medication.  Right now, however, they see the need for a hydrocodone product that does not contain liver-toxic acetaminophen as a higher priority.  This means that Long Term Zohydro Addiction Treatment may soon be as common as Vicodin addiction treatment in rehabilitation centers around the universe.


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