West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie E. Tennant applauds legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin this week that would ban a dangerous and potentially deadly new prescription drug known as Zohydro.
Last week, Tennant sent a letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging the agency to halt the release of Zohydro. Tennant invited the FDA to come to West Virginia and answer to families who are losing loved ones to prescription drug addiction.
“Zohydro has no business on our pharmacy shelves, and releasing it against the advice of the FDA’s own advisory panel flies in the face of the hard work West Virginia law enforcement and communities are doing to protect our families from drug abuse,” Tennant said.
In December 2012 the FDA’s own advisory council voted 11-2, against recommending Zohydro, citing a high risk for abuse and addiction. Despite this, the FDA approved Zohydro in October 2013 against the recommendation of public officials, advocates, law enforcement and medical personnel. Zohydro is currently scheduled for release at the beginning of March and could come any day now.
In her letter to FDA Commissioner Margaret Hamburg, Tennant highlighted the dangerous potential of Zohydro, which is five to ten times more potent than painkillers currently available to the public, and can be easily crushed and snorted.
Tennant also cited questions raised by Manchin over so-called “pay-to-play” circumstances surrounding the approval of Zohydro. Manchin has requested additional information from the FDA, and Tennant said Zohydro should not be released before all parties involved comply with Manchin’s request for information.
According to a 2013 report from the Trust of America’s Health, West Virginia has the highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States, an increase of 605 percent since 1999.
In McDowell County alone, 12 people die from prescription drugs every month.