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Critic wary of highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs

When new drugs come out on the market consumers assume that the safety of the drug has been thoroughly tested. It's easy to forget that doctors and the pharmaceutical industry make a great deal of money off pharmaceutical drug sales. When people in the medical community and the pharmaceutical industry are anxious to market a new prescription drug, it sometimes leads to product liability cases after consumers are injured by the product.

As the $10 billion-a-year market for powerful and highly addictive pharmaceutical drugs continues to grow, West Virginia readers may want to be aware of a new painkiller being tested. If approved, the pure version of hydrocodone, a highly addictive painkiller, may be available in pharmaceutical drugs sold to consumers by early 2013. The new painkiller is said to be 10 times stronger than Vicodin.

If the drug is approved, it will be the first time patients could legally buy pure hydrocodone, which is an opiate that is chemically similar to opium. Other similar drugs include morphine, heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and methadone. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Oxycodone is the most-abused medicine in the U.S., and hydrocodone is second.

The co-founder of Advocates for the Reform of Prescription Opioids describes the supply of such drugs as "the wild west," saying, "The whole supply-side system is set up to perpetuate this massive unloading of opioid narcotics on the American public."

Concerns about the drug are based on the amount of emergency room visits related to hydrocodone abuse. Between 2000 and 2009 ER visits have shot from 19,221 to 86,258. Interested readers may want to follow the progress of the drug to see whether or not it goes on the market, as is currently expected.

Source: CBS News, "Painkiller 10 times stronger than Vicodin worries addiction experts," December 26, 2011

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