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Monday, November 24, 2014

Doctor: Hard-To-Abuse Painkillers Won’t Fix Overdose Crisis

This product image provided by Purdue Pharma shows Hysingla, the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 approved Hysingla, a once-a-day tablet for patients with severe, round-the-clock pain that cannot be managed with other treatments. (AP Photo/Purdue Pharma)

This product image provided by Purdue Pharma shows Hysingla, the first hard-to-abuse version of the painkiller hydrocodone. The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday, Nov. 20, 2014 approved Hysingla, a once-a-day tablet for patients with severe, round-the-clock pain that cannot be managed with other treatments. (Purdue Pharma via AP)

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration approved the new drug called Hysingla, which releases a powerful painkiller slowly over a 24-hour period. The new design aims to make it harder to overdose.

But there’s a real question of whether the new technology of addictive painkillers will help stem the prescription drug epidemic or help fuel it.

Dr. Andrew Kolodny, director of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing, says the new drug is dangerous. “This pill is equivalent to 24 Vicodin in one pill and that makes it especially lethal,” he told Here & Now’s Peter O’Dowd

To make an overdose harder, the drug is coated with plastic or is “goo like,” according to Kolodny, rendering it “crush-resistant.” Although he said, “it’s more important to get doctors to prescribe cautiously.”

“Even though you’re making them harder to snort or inject, you’re not making them less addictive,” said Kolodny. “If they wind up over-prescribing these medications, it will make the epidemic worse.”

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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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