Mass. Gov Seeks More Restrictions On Controversial Painkiller

State House News reports that Gov. Deval Patrick is trying once again to crack down on the controversial pain medication Zohydro:

After a federal judge struck down the governor’s emergency ban on Zohydro, Gov. Patrick moved on Tuesday to impose restrictions on prescribing the powerful new painkiller that include mandatory risk assessments for patients.

(Wikimedia Commons)

(Wikimedia Commons)

The Patrick administration announced late Tuesday afternoon that doctors would be required to complete a risk assessment and pain management treatment agreement before prescribing any drug like Zohydro, which is a hydrocodone-only medication that state public health officials say is not yet manufactured in an abuse-deterrent form.

Zohydro only hit the market in March after the Food and Drug Administration approved the drug for commercial use in October. Other states such as Vermont have taken similar steps to protect against the potential abuse of Zohydro by making it more difficult for doctors to prescribe.

The Board of Registration in Medicine voted to approve the new restrictions on Tuesday, and Department of Public Health Commission Cheryl Bartlett issued an emergency order requiring physicians to utilize the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program before prescribing Zohydro, which is a way for state authorities and prescribers to track where patients are getting their drugs.

“We are in the midst of a public health emergency around opioid abuse and we need to do everything in our power to prevent it from getting worse,” Patrick said in a statement. “The broad actions we are taking to address the opioid epidemic will help save lives and give families struggling with addiction new hope.”

U.S. District Court Judge Rya Zobel last week sided with Zogenix, the pharmaceutical company that markets Zohydro and challenged Patrick’s ban, calling the state’s arguments “without merit.” The Patrick administration tried to ban the drug under the cover of a public health emergency, but the judge ruled that the state could not substitute its own judgment for that of the FDA. The preliminary injunction lifting Patrick’s ban took effect Tuesday.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.