(NEW YORK) — A new prescription painkiller in the works might ultimately deliver far more pain than it relieves, health experts say.
Drug companies are racing to develop a pure form of hydrocodone, better known to consumers as Vicodin. The new drug is considered 10 times more potent that regular Vicodin, the strength of which is cut with over-the-counter painkiller acetaminophen.
Zogenix of San Diego is leading the pack and could start marketing its drug Zohydro as early as next year.
Although the time-released drug is not intended to deliver all its painkilling relief at once, critics say that addicts will get around it by crushing pills as they’ve done with other drugs in the opoid class, which are from the opium family.
Hydrocodone is the second most abused prescription painkiller next to Oxycontin, although the purer hydrocodone could quickly supplant the current king of opoids.
Doctors say they need the drug to help alleviate moderate to severe pain in patients who claim that nothing else helps them.
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio
Jenni Marsh, CNN
Forrest Brown, CNN Newswire