Drug Rehabilitation Blog

What is Zohydro?



In October of 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug administration approved a new drug for the treatment of pain. The medication was developed as an abuse-deterrent form of hydrocodone, an opioid pain drug that has a high potential for addiction. This extended release form of hydrocodone offered patients a more effective method of dealing with painful conditions, but a number of questions have arisen about the manufacturer’s claims.

Controversy Erupts Over Zohydro

As soon as the drug was approved, questions regarding claims of abuse-resistance were challenged. The extended release pill contains a higher dose of hydrocodone than other medications, leading more than 40 health care, addiction treatment and consumer groups to urge revocation of the approval. Attorney general from 28 states have also voiced their concerns about the potential for abuse of the new drug, which contains 50 milligrams of hydrocodone, in a form that could easily be tampered with to produce a high. Deaths from opioid overdose have increased markedly since 2002, with opioid poisoning listed more commonly than heroin or cocaine on death certificates.

Warnings Included With Zohydro

Even while touting the abuse-resistant properties of their new form of hydrocodone, the manufacturer, Zogenix, Inc., was required to provide a number of warnings in their drug use instructions, which include such precautions as:

  • Warnings about exposure to the risk of addiction
  • Warnings about prolonged use of the drug during pregnancy, which can cause an opioid withdrawal syndrome in infants at birth.
  • Warnings of serious, life-threatening respiratory depression with use of the drug
  • Warnings about taking the drug with alcohol or other drugs.
  • Warnings about interactions with CYP3A4 inhibitor medications
  • Warning about accidental ingestion by children
  • Warnings about a number of side effects, including constipation, nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, abdominal pain, dizziness, respiratory tract infection, urinary tract infection and tremor.

Questions Regarding Need for Another Opioid Drug

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that prescription opioid drug deaths have quadrupled since 1999. Whether the medical community needs a new form of hydrocodone that contains an even larger dose of the medication is questioned by many knowledgeable groups. The new drug’s potential for abuse and death from overdose is creating a climate of opposition to Zohydro that is likely to affect its marketability. Although opioid medications are recognized as valuable for cancer pain and other serious conditions, their widespread use indicates over-prescribing of these drugs for conditions that could be treated with other, less-addictive products.

Treatment for Opioid Addiction

Research shows that opioid addiction causes significant changes in the brain that must make treatment of the condition more challenging. Inpatient treatment programs must address these changes, in addition to withdrawal symptoms, management of cravings and psychological issues that may have developed either prior to, or because of, the addiction. Medication-supported treatment, cognitive behavioral therapy, family therapy and other options should all be implemented to provide the degree of treatment needed to support patients’ recovery.



  1. http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/26/health/zohydro-approval/
  2. http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/news/20140226/new-painkiller-zohydro-criticized
  3. http://www.drugabuse.gov/about-nida/legislative-activities/testimony-to-congress/2014/americas-addiction-to-opioids-heroin-prescription-drug-abuse

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  • Angie

    It’s so scary that prescription drug abuse is starting to get so rampant. This is an easy thing to get your hands on, and the drug trails are so iffy. I can’t believe that Zohydro is something that people can get their hands on with the statistics it has. I would definitely get the help of an inpatient facility for anyone I know who might be facing an addiction like this. It’s the best way to make sure you end your program clean and sober.

  • Amanda

    There just seems to be an endless stream of new more powerful drugs. It can be defeating in the war on drugs and as a parent. There is always the next big thing. But the more someone uses drugs, prescription or not, the more chance of an addiction. That is no life for any one! There are many thing is life worth living for and drugs are not one of them. Please help with the fight against drugs and help the people in your life that may have an addiction problem or need the help. It can be a life or death situation.

  • Walter

    Wow! There is something that the world needs… another opioid drug. (insert sarcasm here) I mean this is absolutely stupid and just goes to show that the FDA is out for their own interest in my humble opinion. I mean how is a drug that is more effective and has a longer span of activity in the body going to be less addictive. That is like saying it is safer to drive a car on meth than just snorting cocaine. Or motor oil is safer to burn opposed to gasoline or kerosene. I think it is time to wake up people and see that this administration is not out to help you, but to keep you hooked. They are not a catch and release, more like Hotel California (pardon my analogy to the Eagles). You can’t leave based on how these people are running things. I appreciate the information in this article and the infographic is very descriptive and easy to read, but the data is just sooooo stupid it makes my head hurt. Thanks for posting the info, and pardon my obvious exasperation at the viewpoint of the FDA. At least it sounds like the CDC doesn’t have their head up someone’s backside.

    OK, so my rant for the night is over, and thanks for posting the article. Very well stated.

  • Jonathan

    Just the pictures at the beginning of the article are rather shocking, almost to a disgusting level.

    I don’t understand how the FDA can approve of a drug that just because it causes less liver damage but is highly addictive. That seems to be doing a lot more damage then good.

    The fact that this drug that was issued to help people is showing more deaths than the drugs of heroin and cocaine that wasn’t intended to help people is rather ludicrous. I mean what sense does that make? This angers me that we as a society let these things to continously happen. Pharmaceutical companies push drugs because they prove to be profitable. This drug was probably produced because it was cheap and could be profited from. When it was tested, they knew it was highly addictive so they were fine with that as the person would stay on it and it would draw a lot more money.

    When there is a list of side effects that like that on these drugs, I don’t understand how the FDA could approve them. And having quadrupled the deaths since 1999, I would think there is a problem with this drug and it would need to be taken off of the shelves.

    By all means, if your loved one’s are on this drug, do get them help and to a rehabilitation center and quick to get them off of this drug so they are not another statistic on the death counter. But after that is done, speak out against this drug because it is not doing any good for our society but deteriorating it.

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