Powerful new painkiller has West Virginian's worried - Beckley, Bluefield & Lewisburg News, Weather, Sports

Powerful new painkiller has West Virginian's worried

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BLUEFIELD, Va -

A new prescription painkiller set to hit the market this month has people all across the Mountain State worried.

The drug is called Zohydro.
Experts say it's a hydro-codone pill that's about TEN times stronger than Vicodin.
And they say as it's designed right now, the drugs are packed in an easy-to-crush capsule, perfect for drug abusers.

Pharmacists in our area said the pill would require a prescription each month, but it has the potential to rapidly kill people who abuse it.

"People are going to get tolerant, they're going to find out about this, they're going to ask for it. The drugs are going to get stolen out of people's cars, out of people's homes, care takers are going to steal it from cancer patients I see this on a daily basis," said Mike Dye, owner of New Graham Pharmacy in Bluefield, Virginia.

Pharmacists said there are plenty of safe pain drugs out right now to help people who actually need them. But some doctors simply do not care about the community's well being.

"Every area has a physician or two that will write anything for anyone... Unfortunately," said Dye.

Community advocates said when this drug is released... It's up to patients and doctors in our area to control its supply.

"We don't need 90 day prescriptions if you can give 30 if you can give 15 that's highly encouraged. We have an addicted society already now from what we have seen over the past 15 years. We don't need another generation coming up on another drug," said Mercer County Community Connections Director Greg Puckett.

Experts say one reason they are so worried about this drug is because one pill could be lethal to a child.

The company making Zohydro has admitted its current form is not ideal... and they're working on a pill that's not as easily abused.

"My question is why are we releasing something that even the company recognizes is abusable," said Dye.

When the painkiller was up for approval in October of last year - the FDA's advisory panel actually voted AGAINST it 11 to 2.  The FDA approved Zohydro anyway.

Politicians in the Mountain State are expressing concern about the drug, too.

Secretary of State Natalie Tennant called on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Thursday to halt the release of the potentially deadly new prescription drug.

She said quote, "I ask you, please, work with us, not against us.  Come to West Virginia and see the consequences of prescription drug abuse for yourself. Look in the eyes of families who have lost loved ones, and hear their stories."