There are already fears of massive addiction, and the new painkiller “Zohydro” isn’t even for sale to Americans yet. A Dec. 26 CBS News report stated that “four companies have begun patient testing on the pills which contain a pure version of the highly addictive painkiller hydrocodone, and one of them – Zogenix of San Diego – plans to apply in early 2012 to begin marketing its product, Zohydro.” In turn, other pharmaceutical companies are also in the “final stages of development for this new painkiller” that’s already being hyped as “10 times stronger than Vicodin,” a longtime favorite of the rich and famous Hollywood celebrities who long to become comfortably numb to the pains of real life.
Painkiller 10 times stronger than Vicodin worries addiction experts
If “Zohydro” and other pure versions of hydrocodone are approved, “it would mark the first time patients could legally buy pure hydrocodone. Existing products combine the drug with nonaddictive painkillers such as acetaminophen. Hydrocodone belongs to family of drugs known as opiates or opioids because they are chemically similar to opium. They include morphine, heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and methadone,” stated CBS News in various TV reports Dec. 26; while most Americans are still waking up to a long weekend of partying and plenty of pains that need to be sorted out.
In turn, those who understand the dangers of overuse of pain meds “are especially worried about Zohydro, a timed-release drug meant for managing moderate to severe pain, because abusers could crush it for an intense, immediate high,” added the CBS News report.
"I have a big concern that this could be the next OxyContin," said April Rovero, president of the National Coalition Against Prescription Drug Abuse. "We just don't need this on the market."
OxyContin, introduced in 1995 by Purdue Pharma of Stamford, Conn., was designed to manage pain with a formula that dribbled one dose of oxycodone over many hours. Abusers quickly discovered they could defeat the timed-release feature by crushing the pills. Purdue Pharma changed the formula to make the pill more tamper-resistant, but addicts have moved onto generic oxycodone and other drugs that are not time-released, added the CBS News report; while also stating how
“Oxycodone is now the most-abused medicine in the U.S., with hydrocodone second, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration. The latest drug studies come as more pharmaceutical companies are getting into the $10 billion-a-year legal market for powerful yet highly addictive opioid narcotics.”
Americans love the white medicine
"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."
In turn, CBS News and other media are reporting how pharmaceutical companies say the new drugs give doctors another tool to help patients in legitimate pain.
"Sometimes you circulate a patient between various opioids, and some may have a better effect than others," said Karsten Lindhardt, chief executive of Denmark-based Egalet, which is testing its own pure hydrocodone product.
On the upside, CBS noted how “pure hydrocodone pills would avoid liver problems linked to high doses of acetaminophen, an ingredient in products like Vicodin, according to the drug companies. They also say patients will be more closely supervised because they will have to return to their doctors each time they need more pills. Prescriptions for the weaker, hydrocodone-acetaminophen products can be refilled up to five times.”
Also, “Zogenix has completed three rounds of patient testing, and last week it announced it had held a final meeting with FDA officials to talk about its upcoming drug application. It plans to file the application in early 2012 and have Zohydro on the market by early 2013.”
Pain meds make some people go nuts
At the same time, CBS News noted critics who are troubled “because a new narcotic painkiller can lead to more murders, pharmacy robberies, and millions of dollars lost by hospitals to treat overdose victims. Thousands of legitimate pain patients are becoming addicted to powerful prescription painkillers, they say, in addition to the thousands more who abuse them illegally.”
The CDC said last month that prescription painkillers caused 15,000 U.S. deaths in 2008, more than triple the 4,000 deaths in 1999. Also, emergency room visits related to hydrocodone abuse have shot from 19,221 in 2000 to 86,258 in 2009, according to the DEA. In Florida alone, hydrocodone caused 910 deaths and contributed to 1,803 others between 2003 and 2007. Opiates block pain but also unleash intense feelings of well-being and can create physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms can be intense, causing cramps, diarrhea, muddled thinking, nausea and vomiting. After a while, opiates stop working, forcing users to take stronger doses.
"You've got a person on your product for life, and a doctor's got a patient who's never going to miss an appointment, because if they did and they didn't get their prescription, they would feel very sick," said Andrew Kolodny, president of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing. "It's a terrific business model, and that's what these companies want to get in on."
The U.S. consumes 99 percent of the world's hydrocodone and 83 percent of its oxycodone, according to a 2008 study by the International Narcotics Control Board, CBS News added.
Pain comes every hour, every day for many Americans
For instance, many Americans will either drink lots of booze or take lots of drugs during the holiday season for pain that’s: flickering, pulsing, quivering, throbbing, beating, pounding; or because the pain sickening, suffocating, or because they are fearful, frightful, terrifying, while the pain they feel is punishing, grueling, cruel, vicious, killing, wretched, binding, nagging, agonizing, dreadful and torturing.
“The trouble with the holidays is the mental and physical pain is felt different,” explains Anne, who said during this last week before New Year's – “with so much to do” – she feels the pain she’s suffering is not just every day, but every hour of every day. Every minute of every hour.
“That’s why,” she quips, “I drink heavily and take any and all drugs that I can get my hands on. That’s what they tell us to do in this society,” she adds of all the TV spots that offer this drink or this pill to ease the pain of living.
Stress and pain killing Americans who don’t go outside unless to shop
The American Psychological Association (APA) says the one thing you can do right now during the holidays to deal with stress is: get outside and move. Turn off the TV, computer and iPhone. Get outdoors now and get at least 30 minutes of sun and fresh air.
For instance, a recent report in the Hawaii Tribune Herald – on the islands where people go to beat stress – that the APA and other mental health think tanks view that stress is killing more Americans during the holiday season than at any other time.
“The hectic life we live all year long is partly to blame for increased stress during the holidays,” said advanced stress management specialist Martin Blackwell, of Pahoa's Ola Mana Vitality Clinic, in the Hawaii Tribute Hearld report for the holiday season.
"All year long, people are so busy, and feel alone and disconnected and really want to make up for that by feeling close and connected at the holidays," Blackwell said. "We have the expectation that we're going to make up for all the disconnectedness in our lives (during the holidays), and when the slightest thing goes wrong, it gets people all stressed out."
Count your blessing before popping a pill
Blackwell added in this Hawaii Tribute Hearld report “that when people notice they are starting to feel stress, the best thing they can do is slow things down, breathe, and be thankful for what they have.”
"Remember the connections we all do share: the ultimate gift of being alive. We need to have an attitude of gratitude," Blackwell said. "Let everything flow and evolve without all the expectations of how it has to be. Let events unfold and appreciate them for what they are."
Moreover, the APA report on the role stress plays in holiday depression -- and even the start of cancer – comes from “unhealthy ‘quick fixes’ to manage their stress – popping pills, eating chocolate, drinking alcohol – and do not devote enough time to thinking out and establishing long lasting lifestyle and behavioral changes.
There also seems to be a correspondence between stress and the lack of willpower to carry out the required adjustments. Maybe it feels like overwhelm at this point.”
“Almost three quarters of the U.S. population, according to the APA, “on a yearly basis report that they are having stress levels higher than what they would regard as healthy. Long term or chronic stress is one of the main contributors to diabetes, heart disease, depression, problems of the digestive tract and cancer and is directly related to the increased risk of early death due to stress related illness. Yet, despite knowing all of this people still often have problems making the changes they need to their lives, to de-stress and ensure better health and greater longevity. We need to take the problem of stress seriously – it is almost an epidemic and already starting to reach crisis levels.”
Drugged-up Americans becoming too ‘comfortably numb,’ say experts
“Hello? I hear you're feeling down; well I can ease your pain. Relax. Can you show me where it hurts? There is no pain; you are receding because you have become comfortably numb.”
Pink Floyd’s classic song “Comfortably Numb” might be a good title for the latest American malady – drugged to the max with pain killers that “kill” your loneliness, your boredom, your anxiety, your fear and, oh yes, your pain.
In turn, Nov. 1 press release on the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) website notes that “the number of overdose deaths from powerful painkillers have more than tripled” in the 10 years.
The CDC report pointed to doctor prescribed drugs such as Vicodin, and OxyContin – that are viewed as “must haves” for Hollywood celebrities who say they live with a lot of pain – as possible cause for more than 15,000 people dying in 2008; a figure that the CDC states is “three times more” that the 4,000 Americans who died in 1999 form painkillers.
People living with “real pain” learn to live with it
“Chronic pain is an umbrella term for any type of persistent pain, from migraines to fibromyalgia, that lasts anywhere from several months to the rest of your life. The National Center for Health Statistics estimates that 76.5 million Americans suffer from it, with arthritis and back pain accounting for up to 60% of the cases. For some reason — researchers have not yet figured out why — most of the sufferers are women. We're familiar with acute pain, of course: the type that results from a specific injury like a burned finger or broken bone. When you hurt yourself, nerve fibers called neurons send electrical signals to your spinal cord, which transmits some of those signals to the brain, which in turn interprets the location and severity of the pain. The sensation of pain reminds us to keep the injured area protected (do you want to keep using that broken arm? I didn't think so), giving it time to heal,” stated a recent report in Time magazine.
Victorian-era pain widespread
You don’t have to read one of Charles Dickens Christmas stories to know that the Victorians had to deal with lots of pain. Even Queen Victoria reportedly used “certain potions” to ease her mental and physical pain at a period of world history when “sensibilities and political concerns” resulted in “mental and physical pain” for people in England, Europe and even America during this Victorian-era.
For instance, Melanie Thernstrom writes her book “The Pain Chronicles: Cures, Myths, Mysteries, Prayers, Diaries, Brain Scans, Healing, and the Science of Suffering,” that “surprisingly, modern research has found that physiological pain sensitivity is affected by race, gender and age – but not at all in the way the Victorians believed.”
In turn, the Victorian rich, such as Mr. Scrooge, believed that the rich alone deserved the drinks and drug potions to ease their pain. Thus, it’s no wonder that to this day, the poor follow the foolishness of the rich in modern society by drinking lots of booze and taking “whatever drugs they can get their hands on” to get them through the night; even when it’s New Year’s day.
Image source a field of opium poppies – used in the manufacturer of most heavy duty pain killers today – growing in Afghanistan where American pain pill companies are already on the ground to get their harvest. Photo courtesy Wikipedia