Powerful new painkiller raising addiction concerns

HICKSVILLE - As drugmakers test a powerful new painkiller intended to give doctors a strong weapon against chronic pain, addiction experts worry the drug will become the latest craze among abusers. The drug currently in development is 10 times more powerful than Vicodin, and would be a pure form of the oft-abused painkiller hydrocodone. One of the four pharmaceutical companies developing the drug plans to call it Zohydro. Doctors say the powerful drug would have many benefits for patients with chronic pain, such as pain from cancer or orthopedic issues. Other non-pure drugs can contain other agents that cause organ damage over time, experts say. However, such a potent drug would be saddled with a high potential for abuse, addiction experts warn. "This is the potential for more deaths, more robberies," says Lisa Kessler, a counselor with Central Nassau's Guidance and Counseling Services. "Anyone who reads the papers is aware of what's going on, particularly on Long Island... This is a very, very dangerous and very scary situation." Zohydro is currently being tested on patients. With FDA approval, it could hit the markets by early 2013.

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