Zohydro's second act

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Part two of the Zohdyro painkiller portfolio is coming: drugmaker Zogenix announced Wednesday that it is working on a harder-to-abuse extended release version of its prescription opioid medication.

Lawmakers, addiction advocates and attorneys general have lobbied the FDA to overturn its approval of the drug's first iteration over concerns about how easily it could be abused. Painkiller use, abuse and related deaths have become a major concern. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday that US physicians wrote enough painkiller prescriptions in 2012 to give every adult a full bottle.

The CDC says that, on average, 46 people die each day from prescription painkillers. Although the government agency notes that New York, Tennessee and Florida have been successful in cracking down on patients who doctor-shop for prescriptions or limiting where the drugs can be distributed, a true solution will require multiple types of interventions.

The CDC's report indicates as much: the government agency noted that Florida's heroin-, hydromorphone- and morphine-related deaths rose between 2010 and 2012, the same period when the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers fell in the state. The CDC wrote this inverse relationship “might be a sign of a switch to use of alternative opioids.”

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