By: CBS News Staff
(CBS/AP) As pharmaceutical companies are approaching the final stages of development for a new type of painkiller said to be 10 times stronger than Vicodin, addiction experts worry a new wave of abuse may soon follow.
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Four companies have begun patient testing on the pills which contain a pure version of the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone, and one of them – Zogenix of San Diego – plans to apply early next year to begin marketing its product, Zohydro.
If approved, it would mark the first time patients could legally buy pure hydrocodone. Existing products combine the drug with nonaddictive painkillers such as acetaminophen.
Hydrocodone belongs to family of drugs known as opiates or opioids because they are chemically similar to opium. They include morphine, heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and methadone.
Critics are especially worried about Zohydro, a timed-release drug meant for managing moderate to severe pain, because abusers could crush it for an intense, immediate high.
“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.”
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