Pharmaceutical company Purdue Pharma and three other companies have announced a new prescription drug that will contain pure hydrocodone, a highly addictive narcotic painkiller.  The pill is expected to be 10 times stronger than Vicodin, one of the strongest painkillers available on the market.

Hydrocodone is an opiate much like heroin, oxycodone, codeine, and morphine.  The United States is the largest consumer of hydrocodone prescription pills, using 99 percent of what is on the world market.  Much of the hydrocodone available today is combined with other painkillers like acetaminophen.

Over the years, these pain pills have been criticized for being too addictive.  For example, OxyContin, produced by Purdue Pharma, is the most abused pain pill in the United States. When OxyContin was first introduced onto the market in 1995, abusers quickly learned that they could get a stronger high from the time-release caplets by crushing them.

Today, prescriptions that contain hydrocodone are a quick second to oxycodone in terms of abuse.  A stronger painkiller that contains pure hydrocodone could be disastrous for a nation already suffering with substance abuse and addiction.

The market for pain pills is $10 billion, and pharmaceutical companies are coming up with new drugs to get into the lucrative market. But big pharmaceutical companies are marketing the new drugs as safer, arguing that fewer patients will experience liver problems like they do with drugs that contain acetaminophen.

A form of pure hydrocodone could be on the market as early as 2013, but with an even more addictive prescription on the market, more patients may become addicted to the drugs, leading to numerous overdoses that will strain hospitals resources.  Abuse of hydrocodone alone has led to an uptick in the number of emergency room visits related to hydrocodone abuse.  In 2000, more than 19,000 visits to the emergency room were related to hydrocodone abuse, but in 2008 that number grew more than four times to more than 86,000 visits.

Prescription drug addiction is a brain disease that can be fatal if undetected or untreated. To learn more about America’s prescription drug addiction epidemic, visit www.vanweylaw.com.