MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) - A recently FDA approved drug has State Attorney General Sam Olens worried that it could kill our children. The drug, Zohydro ER, is a pain killer. Olens says it is easy to abuse and he is trying to get the federal government to pull the pill.
You wont find Zohydro ER on the sleves at Kennedy Drugs in downtown Macon.
"We have not dispensed any, we have not ordered any,” Chad Brown, the pharmacist at Kennedy Drugs said.
Brown said the drug is prescribed to people who are in chronic pain. Other painkillers are part hydrocodone mixed with other medication. Zohyrdo ER is pure hydrocodone.
“It's a high milligram, up to 50 milligrams, of pure opiate,” Brown said.”It's considered a much more dangerous drug.
Brown said patients take other pain medications several times a day. Zohydro ER is taken every 12 hours. Experts add the drug can be abused.
"People can actually crush this product and get that entire 50 milligram dose all at once, then of course make it a challenge for the emergency department physicians and pharmacists to manage because it 's going to be lasting all day,” Ashish Advani, the Drug Information Center Director with Mercer University College of Pharmacy said
That is why Olens, along with five other state attorney generals, wrote a letter to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and asked her to removed Zohydro ER from the market.
"Having an advisory committee of the FDA vote 11 to two against putting the drug on the market, and then having the FDA approve it sends a really bad message,” Olens said. "We see too many kids playing with pills in their parents' medicine cabinet and we need to stop it. We're supposed to protect our children, not kill our children."
Advani adds this is just a small part of the bigger issue: the presumption drug problem in the United States, which the Center for Diseases Control calls an epidemic.
"That's what really is causing us to reexamine, go back to our policy and see do we really need another agent that could potentially make this problem worse,” Advani said.
Brown believes the controversy surrounding this drug should refocus on the patient.
"I think the last thing we need right now is anything controversial that will shed a bad light onto treating people for pain,” Brown said.
Proponents of Zoyhdro ER argue it is an alternative to other long-acting pain medication and say it is better for the patient because you only take it twice a day.