This popped up as a news item while I was checking my email. Pretty much any time there’s news about advances in pain management, I read, so of course I clicked on this.
“The new pills contain the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone, packing up to 10 times the amount of the drug as existing medications such as Vicodin.”
I have intense and unpleasant side effects from Vicodin, so I admit, my first reaction to this was a visceral kind of fear. I imagined my own hallucinations, space-time distortion, and nausea multiplied by ten. Admittedly, I think this would be a terrible medication for me personally.
“Critics say they are especially worried about Zohydro, a timed-release drug meant for managing moderate to severe pain, because abusers could crush it to release an intense, immediate high.”
Okay, two things:
First, while hydrocodone is not my friend, I would sacrifice my left eyebrow for a timed release version of an effective pain medication. It sucks to wake up in the middle of the night because my pain medicine has worn off and to stay away for an additional hour (or two, if I’ve underestimated and took too little, which I often do) waiting for the next dose to kick in. The five A.M. rise and shine time comes way too fucking soon. Also, not needing to worry about bringing a controlled medication into my workplace? Would be brilliant. Super bonus points if a time-release formula would mean that the brain fuzzies and nausea didn’t peak and fall erratically.
Second, it is maybe not the coolest thing to render invisible folks who might need or benefit from the medication by focusing instead on people who would not even pretend to take it as prescribed. I get that potential for abuse is a real factor to consider for any medication, but “moderate to severe pain” is also a real thing in the world. Saying, “We just don’t need this on the market,” is at best ill-informed and at worst dishonest and cruel.
“‘It’s like the wild west,’ said Peter Jackson, co-founder of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids. ‘The whole supply-side system is set up to perpetuate this massive unloading of opioid narcotics on the American public.’”
Totally agreed. Which is why my health care provider allows me 30 doses (where a dose lasts 4-6 hours — so something like 7-8 days) of a medication before I have to schedule an appointment, pay a copay, have a consult, and get a new prescription. Which is why I’m sticking with this health care provider: because her attitude toward pain medication is by far the most fair and reasonable one I’ve encountered from doctors so far.
Which is why, every time I’ve attempted to fill an opiate or opioid prescription, it’s been flagged at the pharmacy, and I’ve been told I can’t have this medication because of some untrue reason — for instance, the pharmacy tech claiming I want two kinds of pain medications when I don’t, saying I’m too soon for a refill when I haven’t had one in four months, that because this is a new medication I need to come back to speak with the pharmacist when he’s on duty (hello! how can the pharmacy be open with no pharmacist on duty?), etc.
Yep. This “massive unloading” is exactly like there are unwanted strange pills falling off a truck and into my mouth.
“Critics say they are troubled because of the dark side that has accompanied the boom in sales of narcotic painkillers: Murders, pharmacy robberies and millions of dollars lost by hospitals that must treat overdose victims. “
I get that there are a lot of reasons to be skeptical and suspicious of pharmaceutical corporations, as well as the reality that the FDA is a political entity that doesn’t always make decisions that are truly in the best interest of the public. Moreover, I would love to find effective pain management methods that didn’t create the potential for physical addiction. However, simply failing to meet the needs of people with chronic pain (which, even as someone with good insurance and access, the US medical system pretty well does) is not a viable option, not even in the meantime.