NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A potent new painkiller just hit pharmacies all over the country and there are already calls for the federal government to pull it.
Sen. Charles Schumer was joined by family members of people impacted by prescription drug use on Monday, pushing for Zohydro ER to be pulled from shelves.
Laura Bustamante’s father was killed in the Medford pharmacy massacre. Four people were fatally shot by an alleged prescription painkiller addict during a robbery at Haven Drugs in 2011.
“They have turned a blind eye to what is happening in this country,” she said of the FDA.
The FDA rejected its own advisory board’s recommendation in approving Zohydro ER without protections to prevent abuse, CBS 2’s Don Champion reported.
Jeffrey Reynolds of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence testified against Zohydro.
“A year ago we were serving about a hundred people a month. Last month that number was 850, the vast majority of those folks are coming in with opioid dependence,” Reynolds said.
“It’s a tiny pill packed with pure hydrocodone. It is 10 times stronger than Vicodin,” Schumer said. “One pill could be enough to kill a child.”
Unlike other prescription painkillers, Zohydro’s formula has no safeguard against crushing and snorting it, the senator said.
“Allowing it on the market, bad enough,” said Sen. Schumer. “Not having the protection that is required for drugs of lesser potency, it’s hard to believe.”
Joni Kovacs, whose son Steven Kovacs overdosed on prescription pills, also demanded the drug be pulled.
Schumer wants the U.S. Health and Human Services secretary to overrule the FDA and pull it off the market.
“Kathleen Sebelius has the power to overrule the FDA and we need that done now,” Schumer said.
“The agencies in Washington, D.C. have not been listening,” Bustamante said. “Let’s not forget the lives of my father Bryon, Raymond, Jamie and Jennifer.”
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