Massachusetts bans Zohydro

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Congress, 28 attorneys general, and substance abuse experts have asked the FDA to pull its approval of the painkiller Zohydro.

Massachusetts has taken another route: banning it. Reuters reports that the Bay State's governor, Deval Patrick, announced the ban during a speech Thursday in which he declared opioid abuse a New England public health emergency.

Drugmaker Zogenix decried the ban in a statement Thursday, saying, “ultimately, the ban on the prescription medication will add to patient suffering in the state.”

The company also indicated its drug has been the victim of bad, inaccurate reports. “Claims that Zohydro ER is “more powerful” or “more addictive” than other commonly prescribed opioids are not supported by scientific data, the company said.

FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg told lawmakers during a March 13 Senate Committee hearing that she stood by her agency's approval of the drug, yet as Bloomberg noted at the time, the FDA approval has a backdoor—the head of the anesthesia, analgesia and addiction products division said the regulator could pull the drug “if and when they, or another manufacturer, are able to create an abuse-deterrent formulation that remains safe and effective for patients.”

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