State Medical Board Contacts White House with Concerns Over New Drug

Published: .
Updated: .

A drug released last month and approved by the Food and Drug Administration, is stirring controversy in Ohio. 

The State Medical Board of Ohio says its release is a serious risk to Ohioans and the board has taken those concerns to the White House.

For the first time, the State Medical Board is questioning the approval of a new drug.  The board sent a letter to the acting director of the National Drug Control Policy.  It highlights the controversy over Zohydro, and whether this drug approved for pain, will cause Ohioans more misery, than relief.

In a small hearing room at the Statehouse, a packed audience heard testimony from people worried about a new drug. Zohydro is a powerful pain killer, an extended release form of hydrocodone without acetaminophen to prevent liver problems.       

"Zohydro in a tamper deterrent formulation could provide an important additional tool for the treatment of pain," said Wayne Grant, a Ph.D. in pharmacy who works for Hospice of the Western Reserve.

"Unfortunately," he added, "the current formulation is the problem as it lacks the safety profile expected by the citizens of Ohio.”

That means the pill can be tampered with, crushed, and abused.  It was approved by the FDA last fall, despite an overwhelming vote against it by its own advisory board.  House Bill 501 would make this a Schedule One drug, like heroin, unable to be prescribed in Ohio.

Attorney Craig Mayton had a different view of the problem.

"We all realize that we're not going to solve the problem of addiction.  It's not a solvable problem.  But we can certainly make a difference," he said.

"What you're considering has the potential to save the pain of addiction that families experience like mine, and it also has the ability to save lives."

State Medical Board sent a letter to the White House saying the way the new drug is made, offers "serious risks of addiction and overdose which will outweigh its value as a tool."

The Columbus Police Narcotics Bureau commander says the nation has an opiate addiction problem.

"The average opiate addict in Columbus is using heroin, but they got their start using prescription pain pills," Commander Gary Cameron explained.

He said that six Ohioans die each day from drug overdoses.

"The last thing we need to start doing is adding to that by introducing a new drug called Zohydro," he said.

Then he made a prediction:  "We're going to see more drug overdoses because of it."

The hospice pharmacist said if Zohydro is made off-limits to prescriptions in Ohio, he'd like to see the issue re-visited when the company produces it in a tamper-resistant form.

10TV has called around to local hospitals, and the drug has not reached their shelves.