By 2013, a new super painkiller containing highly addictive pure hydrocodone may be on the market.
Hydrocodone, a highly addictive opiate, is in the same group as oxycodone, methadone, morphine and heroin. It is more commonly known as Vicodin, Vicoprofen, Hycodan, Lortab and Lorcet-HD.
The broader drug industry is approaching the edge of a "patent cliff."
If approved, this new painkiller will allow consumers to have access to pure hydrocodone for the very first time.
Out of four pharmaceutical companies (which include Purdue Pharma, Egalet and Cephalon) that are developing this new type of painkiller, a company called Zogenix has already announced a plan to market its version called "Zohydro."
"Zohydro, is a novel, oral, single-entity extended-release formulation of hydrocodone currently in Phase 3 clinical trials for the treatment of moderate to severe chronic pain in patients requiring around-the-clock opioid therapy, " stated Zogenix on their company Web site.
"Zohydro, if approved, may represent the first available extended-release version of hydrocodone and also the first hydrocodone product that is not combined with another analgesic,"
Other painkillers usually combine hydrocodone with acetaminophen, more commonly known as Tylenol and Panadol. However, overdoses of acetaminophen have been known to cause problems like liver damage or even failure.
"Hydrocodone is an addictive drug that can lead to serious illness, injury, or death if not used properly. For example, overdose can result in respiratory depression and cardiac arrest. In addition, normal use may impair motor skills or judgment, making it unsafe to operate machinery, drive, or engage in other potentially hazardous activities while taking the drug," reports the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA classifies hydrocodone as a Schedule II narcotic. It is considered one of the most-abused drugs in the United States, second only to oxycodone.
The new painkiller has come under heavy criticism and has been likened to OxyContin. OxyContin, developed by Purdue Pharma, is a painkiller which quickly became a favorite target for drug abusers for the intense feeling of euphoria it gave.
Experts fear that the release of the super painkiller may lead to a dramatic spike in drug abuse cases and other drug-related crimes in the future.
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