A Massachusetts Group Calls for Prescription Drug Restrictions

In April, drug prevention groups in Massachusetts got together with state lawmakers and labor leaders to show their support outside the Massachusetts statehouse. A powerful new prescription painkiller is what’s causing the groups to come together in protest. What they want are tougher restrictions on the new drug, as well as action to help fight the growing trend of dangerous prescription drug abuse that’s fast becoming an epidemic in the state as well as in the rest of the country. Drug Abuse Prevention

April’s rally drew over 150 people and comes shortly after challenges to the Massachusetts governor’s attempts at restricting the drug. A federal judge said Governor Patrick’s attempts at restricting the drug are unconstitutional and federal drug regulators say the new restrictions will do nothing to combat dangerous prescription drugs.

The company that makes the drug, Zogenix, has filed a federal lawsuit against the state saying that their attempts are similar to banning the drug and are unconstitutional as well. Zogenix has asked the court to put a stop to any actions Massachusetts lawmakers have made to limit the distribution of the drug.

The recent rally brought together supporters who want limitations on the new drug to help renew their efforts and show Zogenix and other opponents that they will continue to fight. The rally was organized by two drug abuse prevention groups, Learn To Cope and the Massachusetts Organization for Addiction Recovery. Speakers from the groups came forward to show their support for Governor Patrick’s efforts.

They also urged members of Congress and federal officials to step up and reexamine their approval of the drug. Speakers at the rally reiterated that there should not be any more powerful prescription opiates on the market and that more energy needs to be focused on treating prescription drug abuse, not on introducing new drugs. The speakers made it clear that pain medications are a necessary way to treat patients, but that the right kind of medications should be used with additional monitoring of their usage.

More On The New Painkiller From Zogenix

The company’s new prescription painkiller goes under the name of Zohydro and comes in higher doses of hydrocodone than other painkillers on the market. Drug abuse prevention groups and state lawmakers say this makes the drug much easier to abuse. The FDA approved Zohydro in October of 2013. Zogenix has defended the drug, saying that its hydrocodone levels are the same as any other painkiller currently on the market. Zogenix also states that Zohydro is highly effective at treating patients with chronic pain who don’t want to take acetaminophen.

What Massachusetts Drug Abuse Prevention Groups And State Lawmakers Want To Do About Zohydro

In Late April, Governor Patrick announced that there would be new restrictions on the drug. His previous attempts to ban the drug entirely were denounced as unconstitutional by a federal judge. The new restrictions would require doctors to look closely a patient’s drug abuse history and other drugs being taken before prescribing Zohydro. They would then provide a “letter of necessity” to the pharmacy dispensing the drug.

Doctors would also complete a “pain management treatment agreement” with the patient being given Zohydro. The Massachusetts state Prescription Monitoring Program, which tracks prescriptions of opiates and other potentially addictive prescription medications online, would also be utilized by doctors before handing out scripts for Zohydro. The program is meant to help track prescriptions of only drugs like Zohydro that carry a high risk of addiction and that contain only hydrocodone in slow release tablet form.

Massachusetts lawmakers say their efforts are not limited to Zohydro and that a comprehensive bill is in the works to battle all types of drug addiction in the state.