Vermont Becomes Second State to Restrict New Narcotic Painkiller

Gov. Peter Shumlin announced yesterday, according to the Burlington Free Press, restrictions that will make it harder for doctors to prescribe the new FDA approved painkiller Zohydro. His announcement follows last week's ban of the drug by Massachusetts. 

“What we believe this rule will do is ensure that we are very, very careful about prescribing this FDA-approved opiate in Vermont with the hope that we won’t repeat the mistakes that we made with OxyContin with an even more powerful form,” Shumlin is reported to have said at a news conference announcing the restriction.

Last week, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick declared a public health emergency that set up a ban by the state’s Public Health Council on prescribing and dispensing the drug. “We have an epidemic of opiate abuse in Massachusetts, so we will treat it like the public health crisis it is,” said the governor's press release.

The AP reports this is the first time a state has ever banned a prescription drug.  

As part of the declaration, Patrick also outlined steps to address drug addiction and allocated $20 million in state funds for drug treatment and recovery services.

The FDA is reported to have called these state actions “extremely troubling.” In a statement released to a trade publication, the FDA said "Efforts by Congress and at the state level to legislate the approval or marketing withdrawal of medications are extremely troubling."

In its own statement, the drug manufacturer, Zogenix, objected to the Massachusetts ban.  It said that claims the new drug is more powerful or more addictive than other painkillers are not supported by scientific evidence.