Concern growing over powerful painkillers

ST. LOUIS - Some activists are calling it a major step back in the fight against heroin as a new controversial painkiller is hitting the market.

There's growing concern that it could become the next gateway drug.

Some say the pill could carry big consequences. One of those people has been a voice in the crusade to fight the heroin epidemic. He's a former prosecutor, and now a recovering heroin addict turned activist.

"Just hearing about this drug gave me bad thoughts," said Chad Sabora.

And those still using, he says, will be eager to act on those thoughts.

{People in active addiction, or people who have been using, they have been waiting for this drug to come out because they want to try it," said Sabora.

So, he's among those calling on lawmakers to pressure the FDA to revoke its approval of Zohydro. The agency approved the drug despite its advisory committee's recommendation not to approve it.

On its website the FDA explains its decision by saying the agency is committed to pain management and abuse prevention, and "actions to advance one should not impede the other."

Unlike some similar painkillers zohydro won't carry the risk of liver damage over an extended period of time, making it good for patients, and more appealing for addicts.

"In no way are myself or anybody advocating cutting off people that need pain medication to this drug because it could be beneficial to them," said Sabora.

But activists say the FDA needs to wait for an abuse-deterrent version before allowing it on the market.

"This just seems like we're taking two steps forward and now we have to take five steps back to deal with this new demon that's going to be on the streets," said Sabora.

Opponents of the drug are comparing it to oxycontin before the drug was adapted to become abuse-deterrent. An abuse-deterrent form of zohydro is reportedly in the works, but is still years away.


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