WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman Mike Michaud has joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers in introducing legislation to withdraw Food & Drug Administration (FDA) approval of painkiller Zohydro ER. The legislation, An Act to Prohibit Zohydro, would also prohibit the FDA from approving any version of the drug that is not formulated to prevent abuse. The controversial new painkiller was approved by the FDA last year, despite warnings from its panel of experts that the drug would likely be abused.
"I've been proud to stand with Maine's law enforcement community to battle the drug problems that have plagued our region over the last few years," said Michaud. "As the New England states continue to combat opiate addiction, the last thing our communities need is a new, highly abusable narcotic on the street."
"Law Enforcement Officials have struggled to keep up with the explosion of opiate use in the past several years. In spite of exhaustive efforts to educate our youth, strict enforcement of existing laws and rehabilitation, our communities continue to suffer from significant ill effects of addiction. As a result of opiate addiction, 927 drug-addicted infants were born to Maine mothers in 2013. In 2012, the State of Maine suffered 163 overdose deaths," said Randy Liberty, Kennebec County Sheriff and President of the Maine Sheriffs' Association. "It is a mistake for the Food and Drug Administration to release the painkiller Zohydro. I commend Congressman Michaud for his leadership in the introduction of the legislation, An Act to Prohibit Zohydro. The release of this drug without a deterrent formula will only lead to yet another prescription medication that will be abused, resulting in more drug addicted infants and an increase in overdose deaths in Maine."
"Law enforcement in Maine has far too frequently witnessed the dire consequences of the improper use of high potency, delayed release opioids. In my experience, the worst of those drugs failed to include adequate tamper resistant formulas. I believe the government should stop releasing these potential killers onto our streets, and I applaud Congressman Michaud's efforts to be proactive on this issue," said Darrell Crandall, Aroostook County Chief Deputy Sheriff and former Commander of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. "While this type of drug seems to have some efficacy for people battling severe chronic pain, we already face too many dangerous options for those who would abuse drugs."
The Maine Chiefs of Police Association also announced their support for the bill. Earlier this week, Michaud joined the other members of Northern New England's House Delegation in urging the FDA to withdraw its approval of Zohydro. Without action, the drug is expected to hit markets within the month.