Schumer to HHS: Stop painkiller until abuse-proof

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY.) is calling on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to overturn a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) decision to allow a powerful painkiller to enter the market in a form that can be abused.

“It is baffling that at the same time policy makers and law enforcement officials are waging a war on the growing prescription drug crisis, we are essentially rolling out the welcome mat to a new, more powerful, and easily abused super-drug,” Schumer said Monday.

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Zohydro ER — a form of the powerful painkiller hydrocodone that can contain up to 10 times as much of the powerful narcotic as Vicodin — came to market over the weekend without tamper-proof requirements.

In a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Schumer said HHS should pull the drug from pharmacists’ shelves until tamper-proof protections are in place to guard against abuse.

“Now that the FDA has allowed Zohydro ER to hit the market without protections to prevent abuse, we need Secretary Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services to overrule the decision and pull the drug until it is sufficiently tamper-resistant,” Schumer said. “We should not be adding fuel to the fire of this terrible epidemic.”

The most common tamper-proof deterrent ensures the pill turns to a gel if crushed, not a powder that can be snorted or turned in to a liquid for injection.