Last week, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick announced a state of public health emergency as heroin and opiate overdoses rise. The announcement called for a ban on the new drug Zohdyro, an opiate painkiller ten times stronger than Vicodin. In response, Zogenix, the drug's maker, has filed a federal lawsuit.
Zohydro had just started rolling out in California markets this March, and Patrick's decision has forestalled any chances of that happening in the Northeastern state, calling it a "potentially lethal narcotic painkiller."
Patrick has ensured that Narcan, an overdose preventive medication, will be more readily available to first responders, but has also promised that Zohydro will stay off the market until more safeguards are put into place.
"We must have more rigor over the overprescription of pain medication," Patrick said. Opiate overdoses in Massachusetts rose 90 percent from 2000 to 2012.
Predictably, Zogenix is not happy with this decision, claiming it is "impermissible" and that "it impedes the FDA's Congressional mandate to approve a range of safe treatments to promote the public health." The FDA's approval of the drug last year was met with controversy, and many states are following in Massachusetts' footsteps in banning access.
Zohydro's intended purpose is for "the management of pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term opioid treatment and for which alternative treatment options are inadequate," but many believe it will result in only further opiate overdoses.
Zogenix asked for a meeting with Patrick regarding the matter, and he is now reviewing the lawsuit.