Drug makers are in the process of developing a more powerful version of the second most highly abused drug in the Nation.
The new pharmaceutical will contain up to 10 times the amount of the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone as existing medications such as Vicodin. Four companies have begun patient testing, and one of them — Zogenix — has plans to apply early next year to begin marketing the drug, Zohydro, according to The Associated Press.
Many addiction experts are worried that the release of new pills will spark another narcotic epidemic in the United States similar to that following the release of OxyContin, which became known as “hillbilly heroin.”
“I have a big concern that this could be the next OxyContin,” said April Rovero, president of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. “We just don’t need this on the market.”
OxyContin was designed to deliver measured time-release doses, but addicts quickly learned that by crushing the tablets they could achieve an instant, powerful high. OxyContin is the most-abused medicine in the Nation, and hydrocodone is second, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration’s annual count of drug seizures sent to police drug labs for analysis.
Prescription drug makers earn a combined $10 billion a year legally pushing powerful opiate narcotics.