Criminal defense attorneys historically accustomed to dealing with clients charged with illegal possession of oxycodone, Xanax, methadone, and dihydrocodeine will soon become familiar with the a recently approved pain medication called Zohydro.
For years, drug abusers raided medicine cabinets looking for OxyContin, with many hard core abusers freebasing it. However, drug manufacturers modified the oxycontin formula, causing it to gelatinize, making it difficult, if not impossible for drug addicts to inject it through a syringe.
Zohydro, which first hit the market in 2014, is a time released painkiller containing hydrocodone. It is not believed to be manufactured with the abuse deterrent factors now implemented by the makers of OxyContin. Unlike previous hydrocodone products on the market, such as Vicodin and Lortab, Zohydro reportedly does not contain any acetaminophen leaving promoters to claim it is safer due to liver damage attributed to acetaminophen overdose. However, due to the high levels of hydrocodone contained in Zohydro, opponents fear an addiction epidemic is on the way.
Law enforcement officials have fought to prevent Zohydro’s release into the market, but it appears it has been a losing fight. Now they will gear up to prosecute those in possession of Zohydro without a prescription. It is also likely both state and federal prosecutors will carefully monitor the amounts of Zohydro prescribed by pain management clinics. If inordinate amounts of the drug are being prescribed by any one doctor, the authorities are likely to initiate criminal “pill mill” proceedings against the doctor and his company, including federal drug conspiracy, drug distribution and money laundering charges.
Only time will tell, but as long as pain killers are available, there will be those that abuse them. It is suspected that Zohydro will be no different.